PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
TUESDAY, JANUARY 20, 2009, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing to receive public comment on a proposed application for a federal grant to fund the purchase, rehabilitation and sale of previously foreclosed properties to first time homebuyers in the county; and will consider endorsing the establishment of a Social Services Aging Planning Leadership Team and development of a Children's Agenda for the county through a strategic planning process, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
The Board will also consider the purchase of property adjacent to the Catawba Valley Community College campus, to be used as a Center for Emerging Manufacturing Solutions; receive a report from Social Services Director John Eller on the changing face of public assistance; and consider appropriating funds for the demolition of the old St. Stephens Elementary School and rescheduling the Board’s current subcommittee meeting time to better accommodate the members’ schedules.
The Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed application to the N.C. Division of Community Assistance for a $4.9 million grant to purchase, rehabilitate and sell previously foreclosed properties in Catawba County to first time homebuyers. Through the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development developed a Neighborhood Stabilization Program to allocate funds to states and local governments with greatest need, based on the number and percentage of home foreclosures, homes financed with a “subprime mortgage related loan”, and homes in default or delinquency in each state or local government. North Carolina is expected to receive $52,303,004. Catawba County is the only county in the region eligible to apply. Applications are due on February 2, 2009. Eligible activities include financing mechanisms for purchase and redevelopment of foreclosed residential properties; purchase and rehabilitation of abandoned or foreclosed homes and residential properties for sale, rent or redevelopment (price negotiated must be at least 15% below appraised value); establishment of land banks for foreclosed homes; demolition of blighted properties; redevelopment of demolished or vacant properties; and establishment of land banks.
A. The Board will consider a request from Catawba County Schools to appropriate and transfer $95,281 to demolish the buildings on the site of the old St. Stephens Elementary School and clear the debris from the property. Since the old St. Stephens Elementary property closed in August 2005, the structures have had numerous break-ins and incidents of vandalism and theft. Catawba County Schools was notified by the City of Hickory on November 7, 2008 that the property is in violation of several city safety codes and was given 90 days to abate the violations cited. The initial cost to bring the property into compliance with the code has been estimated at $15,000 to $20,000, but the greater problem of an unoccupied building would remain. Boarding up this facility would only result in continuing costs for constant maintenance and upkeep, since it is already being used as a shelter for vagrants. Since the buildings are no longer useful for any purpose, the more cost effective solution would be to remove them. Catawba County Schools has obtained a proposal to demolish the buildings and clear the property for $88,281.
Demolition of the property will result in approximately 3500 tons of debris to be disposed of in the County landfill. Catawba County Schools is requesting that the County waive landfill fees for this project, for an estimated savings to the school system of $68,250 plus $500 for asbestos removal. The County does not have the authority to waive a $2 per ton State tax implemented this year, so an additional $7000 will be required to pay that tax. Catawba County Schools is requesting transfer of $10,000 from a completed Balls Creek Elementary sewer project and $24,315 from a completed Maiden High project to help meet these costs. The remaining $60,966 is requested from the Schools Capital Projects fund balance. The Board’s Finance & Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of these requests.
B. The Board will consider a change to the meeting time of its subcommittees from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. on the Monday prior to the Board’s regularly scheduled meetings, which would become effective upon approval. Staff has historically set a day and time for subcommittee meetings to best fit the schedules of the Commissioners who sit on these committees and has adjusted the set meeting time as necessary. Due to a recent change in time commitments of a subcommittee member, a change of the current meeting time of the subcommittees has been requested to better fit the members’ schedules.
A. SOCIAL SERVICES
1. The Board will consider endorsing the efforts of an Aging Leadership Planning Team to build a livable and senior-friendly community. In 1991, Catawba County completed a strategic planning effort called ElderPlan, which served as a blueprint for quality living for older adults. There have been no additional strategic planning efforts regarding older adults since that time. North Carolina is in the midst of a significant demographic transition. The North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services reports North Carolina ranked 10th in the number of persons age 50 and older in 2004. Many of the oldest baby boomers will retire during this decade. Catawba County's population of persons age 60 and over is expected to grow by over 58% from 2008 to 2030.
The Western Piedmont Council of Government’s Area Agency on Aging and Catawba County Social Services have joined forces to create an Aging Planning Leadership Team to develop a plan that addresses the needs of adults age 60 and over. This Team will focus on eight components of a livable and senior-friendly community. The first phase will focus on healthy aging, access and choice in services and supports, safety and security, and public accountability and responsiveness. The second phase will focus on physical and accessible environment, economic security, technology, and social and cultural opportunity. Each phase will last 9-12 months with the entire project spanning 18 to 24 months. At the conclusion of this process, (estimated May 2011) a written plan will be developed outlining the issues addressed, unmet and under met needs, and strategies to serve as Catawba County's guide to building a livable, senior-friendly community.
2. The Board will consider endorsing the efforts of Social Services, in partnership with key community stakeholders, to create a consolidated Children's Agenda for Catawba County through a strategic planning process, and approve the establishment of an initial Children's Agenda Planning Committee. This agenda, to be developed by January 2010, would be used by community organizations, foundations, government and community leaders to inform planning efforts, address service gaps and identify 2010 legislative priorities for overarching issues which impact children and their families.
In summer 2008, Dawn Wilson, Special Projects Coordinator at Social Services, summarized information provided by several community leaders already engaged in various community-wide initiatives, task forces, committees and organizations serving children. The summary and a subsequent feedback group noted the lack of a unified Children's Agenda and data clearinghouse in the county. Participants felt an effort should be made to enhance and link the work of existing task forces, and to shape planning and advocacy efforts in the future.
The purpose of a Children’s Strategic Agenda planning process is to bring together community leaders, and representatives from the current county-wide initiatives regarding specific children’s issues, to establish a cohesive agenda of prioritized children’s issues in our community. The goal of this agenda is to inform community organizations, and government and community leaders for future planning efforts, and for funding and legislative support for issues impacting children and their families.
A Children’s Agenda Planning Group would be appointed to review and expand a summary of local strategic initiatives currently underway; align and identify overarching issues across task forces; review key data indicators and pending state and federal legislative initiatives that could affect children's issues; determine the issues not currently being addressed locally; and develop a Children’s Agenda Action Plan of prioritized issues and action items for agencies serving children, community leaders, legislators and other elected officials to focus on over the next 3 to 5 years.
3. The Board is expected to receive an informational presentation by Social Services Director John Eller on the changing face of public assistance and how these programs benefit both employers and employees as they help families bridge the gap between salaries and a living wage.
The Board will consider appropriating $950,000 from the School Construction Fund to purchase property adjacent to the Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) campus to be used as a Center for Emerging Manufacturing Solutions. CVCC contacted the County a few weeks ago regarding the sale of the former Fire Mountain Restaurant site (currently Ryan’s Steakhouse), adjacent
to the community college property. The CVCC Foundation previously owned this site and sold it to Fire Mountain Restaurant
in 2004 for $1.3 million. The restaurant has since gone out of business. The selling price for the site, including the building, is
$1.2 million. It has a tax value of $2.2 million. In fiscal year 2007/08, the Board set aside two cents of the property tax rate to be used for financing school and community college construction over a four-year period. Phase one of a new Industrial and Technical Education Building, estimated at $9 million, was planned for the fourth year of this funding cycle (Fiscal Year 2010/11). CVCC has approximately $250,000 available for the purchase, leaving a balance of $950,000 needed. CVCC plans to convert the building to a Center for Emerging Manufacturing Solutions and has proposed to delay the construction of the Industrial and Technical Education Building until the next four-year construction cycle, beginning in fiscal year 2011/12, and use those funds towards the balance for this property. It is expected that some funds will remain from a project funded last year to repair structural damage to several buildings on the CVCC campus. The repair project will be completed later this year and any remaining funds, estimated at approximately $100,000, will be pledged towards the purchase of the former Fire Mountain Restaurant property.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464