Click to go to Catawba County Home Page
Bookmark and ShareShare Page    print pagePrint Page
FEBRUARY 21, 2011

Catawba County Board of Commissioners
Monday, February 21, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room,1924 Courthouse,
30. North College Avenue

Newton, North Carolina

1. Call to Order

2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

3. Invocation

4. Approval of the minutes from the Regular Meeting and Closed Session of February 7, 2011

5. Recognition of Special Guests

6. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda

7. Public Hearing:

Installment Financing Agreement for Renovations of Webb A. Murray Elementary School and St. Stephens High School. Presented by Finance Director Rodney Miller.

8. Appointments.

9. Consent Agenda:

a. Approval to Submit Grant for Criminal Justice Partnership Program (CJPP).

b. Sole Source Exception for the Purchase of LifePak 15 Monitor/Defibrillators.

c. Request to Appropriate $150,000 In Existing Fund Balance to St. Stephens Fire Department.

d. Second Reading of Proposed Amendment to the Personnel Code, Section 28-201, Family and Medical Leave Act.

e. Tax Refund Request

10. Departmental Report:


Delinquent 2010 Real Estate Property Tax. Presented by Ona Scruggs, Tax Collector.

11. Other Items of Business.

12. Attorneys’ Report.

13. Manager’s Report.

14. Adjournment.

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: Individuals needing assistance should contact the County Clerk at 828-465-8990 within a reasonable time prior to the meeting. A telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD) is located in the Government Center and can be reached by dialing 465 8200. Access to the 1924 Courthouse for individuals with disabilities is at the south side (“A” Street). The elevator is located at the north end of the building. Participation in public meetings is without regard to race, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, color, or disability.

INFOTALK/INTERNET: The Catawba County Telephone Information System will allow you to use your touch tone telephone to obtain current information on Catawba County 24 hours a day. Information is updated on a regular basis. Dial 465-8468 and INFOTALK will direct your questions with easy to understand instructions. Reach Catawba County on the Internet at

Due to the Board members’ attendance at the NACO Conference in Washington, DC in early March, there will be only one March Board of Commissioners Meeting. This meeting will take place on Monday, March 21, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.

MONDAY FEBRUARY 21, 2011, 7:00 P.M.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on proposed financing for expansion projects at Webb A. Murray Elementary School and St. Stephens High School, which is expected to include the use of Qualified School Construction Bonds that the County will seek at 0% interest; and consider appropriating $150,000 of the St. Stephens Fire Department fund balance toward the cost of a new station the department is building, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 21, 2011, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.

The Board will also consider authorizing an application for a grant from the State of North Carolina to fund the Criminal Justice Partnership Program which provides an effective bridge, between the criminal justice system and community agencies, for intermediate sanction offenders on supervised probation who are at risk of incarceration. It will consider use of the sole source exception from normal bidding procedures to purchase LifePak 15 Monitor/Defibrillators, made only by one company, for Emergency Services. The Board will hold a second reading on a proposed amendment to the County’s Personnel Code, to move detailed language regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act from the Personnel Code to an administrative policy, and consider a refund of taxes that were doubly paid and authorizing the County Tax Collector to advertise delinquent tax liens on property for which taxes had not been paid by the State deadline of January 5, 2011.

The Board will hold a public hearing on proposed financing for expansion projects at Webb A. Murray Elementary School and St. Stephens High School. In fiscal year 2007-08, the Board set aside two cents of the property tax rate for financing of school construction projects over a four-year period. Projects funded over the first three years of that cycle included a new Snow Creek Elementary School, additions to Bunker Hill, Bandys, Fred T. Foard, Hickory and Newton-Conover High Schools, and improvements and additions at Catawba Valley Community College.

In late 2009 and early 2010, the County applied for an allocation of Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs), available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The County received a total allocation of $21,508,553 to be used towards a new Newton-Conover Middle School ($16,508,553) and additions to the existing Arndt Middle School ($5,200,000). Staff was able to issue 2009 and 2010 QSCBs at a 0% rate for fifteen years, and finance the balance of the Newton-Conover Middle School project with traditional financing at a rate of 3.185% over fifteen years. By issuing the QSCBs at 0%, the County realized approximately $7.5 million in interest savings over the financing term.

In late 2010, Catawba County was notified by the State that additional QSCB dollars were available, so an application was submitted to request those funds. The County was awarded an additional $6.3 million to be used for a classroom expansion project at Webb Murray Elementary School, which was planned for the next four-year construction cycle beginning in FY 2011-12. Catawba County agreed to advance funds from the next four-year cycle and move forward with bidding the project, in order to take advantage of the QSCB funding and a favorable construction climate.

Bids were received in December 2010 for a total project cost of $5,776,800 for an addition of eighteen classrooms, a new entrance to the school, expansion of the media center and renovation of existing classrooms. This is $523,200 less than the QSCB allocation of $6.3 million, which was the expected budget for the project. Catawba County Schools requested that this balance of QSCB funds, along with funds remaining from completed projects including Snow Creek Elementary, be used to expand the kitchen/cafeteria at St. Stephens High School. The original kitchen/cafeteria has not been expanded since the early 1960s when the original building was built. The project is estimated to cost between $1.2 million and $1.6 million and is expected to be bid in late February, at which time Catawba County Schools will request final approval for the project from the County.

In fiscal year 2009-10, Catawba County was allocated $3,093,376 in lottery funds for its three school systems ($2,178,494 to Catawba County Schools, $847,172 to Hickory Public Schools, $530,623 to Newton-Conover City Schools). This amount was much higher than expected due to a change in the distribution formula by the State to allocate funds to school systems on an Average Daily Membership basis instead of based on county tax rates. Since inception of the lottery funding, the County has dedicated those funds annually in an amount equivalent to one-cent on the property tax rate, or $1.5 million, towards repayment of school debt over the four-year construction cycle. This additional lottery funding will be used to complete the County’s funding of the project after bids are received.

A. The Board will consider submission of a grant application to fund the Criminal Justice Partnership Program (CJPP). The Criminal Justice Partnership Board is charged with administering a grant from the State for the program. The current year’s grant is in the amount of $122,789. The application for Fiscal Year 2011-12 is for $123,388. The $599 increase is due to the State’s increasing the County’s established funding amount. The CJPP provides an effective bridge, between the criminal justice system and community agencies, for intermediate sanction offenders on supervised probation who are at risk of incarceration. Through detailed needs assessment, appropriate referrals, treatment services for substance abuse and cognitive skills and transportation when needed, the program seeks to combine the influence of community-based legal sanctions and non-incarceration punishments with structured services in the community. By providing treatment services appropriate to the offender’s needs, the program seeks to address those issues that maintain criminal lifestyle for offenders. Utilizing the State’s accepted offender management model, the program seeks to provide those services that will decrease criminal involvement and increase productive, socially acceptable behaviors. This grant would provide funds to serve approximately 75 people.

Since July 1, 2010, 32 participants successfully completed the program, were diverted from jail and have increased their odds against recidivism. Other participants are continuing in the program, while twelve have been incarcerated. The program’s successful completion rate is 70%, which far exceeds the statewide average rate of approximately 50%. The average daily cost of a participant in this program is $15, while the approximate cost of local incarceration is $75 per day and the cost of incarceration with the North Carolina Department of Corrections is over $80 per day. On February 4, 2011, the CJPP Board approved the grant application as prepared by Mental Health Partners. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the submission of this grant.

B. The Board will consider authorizing the sole source exemption for the purchase of four LIFEPAK 15 Monitor/Defibrillators and accessories for Emergency Medical Services for $120,000. The North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services requires that all EMT-Paramedic level ambulances have the capability to transmit data to receiving hospitals. Both Frye Regional Medical Center and Catawba Valley Medical Center use Physio-Control (LIFEPAK®) cardiac monitors and defibrillators and have the capability to receive transmissions from these devices. Their receiving stations will not receive data from other defibrillator/monitor manufacturers.

Catawba County currently owns 43 Physio-Control cardiac monitors and/or defibrillators. This means that all the accessories are the same brand and, by purchasing the additional Physio-Control LIFEPAK 15s, the County will not have to maintain two sets of accessories (batteries, battery chargers, therapy cables, monitoring cables, defibrillator pads, paper, CO2 probes, blood pressure tubes, cuffs, etc.). Catawba County EMS has used Physio-Control LIFEPAK® cardiac monitors and defibrillators for over twenty years and experienced excellent service. Physio-Control, a division of Medtronic, Inc., is the only source from which the County may purchase LIFEPAK® monitor/defibrillators.

North Carolina General Statute 143-129 allows an exception from formal bidding for purchase contracts when performance or price competition for a product are not available; when a needed product is available from only one source of supply; or when standardization or compatibility is the overriding consideration. This exception requires the Board’s approval and a record must be maintained of purchases made. Funds for this purchase are included in this year’s budget. The Board’s Finance & Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board authorize use of the sole source exemption as outlined above.

C. The Board will consider appropriation of existing fund balance of the St. Stephens Fire Department (FD) in the amount of $150,000. The funds will be used towards the cost of a new station the St. Stephens Fire Department is building. The total cost of the new station is $1,831,755. Historically, each department has its own fund balance which is carried from year to year unless the department makes a request to appropriate it. The fund balance is created through tax revenue collections exceeding the projections established by the Budget Department prior to the fiscal year. Fire departments have been allowed to utilize 90% of existing fund balance to address major projects such as buildings, building additions, truck replacement and other non-operating budget needs such as equipment items. Ten percent of each department’s fund balance is held for unforeseen expenditures during the budget year.

St. Stephens FD has been planning to expand its Station 2 for a number of years because of the department’s need for additional office, personnel and vehicle space. In August 2008, St. Stephens FD began providing medical first response and rescue services in its response area, which resulted in increased staffing levels. Since that time, St. Stephens has responded to 1,233 medical and rescue calls with an average response time of 5:37. Prior to St. Stephens providing these services, the average response time in this area was in excess of six minutes. This increased call volume and staffing, coupled with an increase in the number of volunteers associated with the department, further complicated the need for additional space. The expansion will provide additional bay space, office space and a much needed area for training sessions and meetings. Currently, those types of events are conducted in a common area that does not provide adequate space or privacy from noise and distraction. In Fiscal Year 2009-2010, St. Stephens FD requested that $150,000 be held for capital expenditures during Fiscal Year 2010-2011 to be used for their new station project. Those funds were held by the County for that purpose. However, at the end of Fiscal Year 2009-2010, the $150,000 was not maintained in a Capital account, but rather fell to fund balance and was not appropriated in the current year budget. Since St. Stephens FD originally planned to utilize these funds during this fiscal year, they are now requesting the $150,000 be appropriated. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this appropriation of fund balance.

D. The Board will consider, on second reading, adopting an amendment to Section 28-201 of the County Personnel Code to move detailed language regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act from the Personnel Code to an administrative policy. North Carolina General Statutes require that all Board members be present to vote on an amendment that does not require a public hearing and, because all commissioners were not present at the Board’s February 7, 2011, meeting, a second reading of the proposed amendment is required. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was enacted for the purpose of allowing employees to balance family life and work by letting them take up to twelve work weeks of unpaid leave for certain family events and medical reasons. The Act was amended in 2008 and 2010 to expand the definition of who qualifies for this leave and the particular events that are covered by the Act. In addition, the federal regulations that interpret the Act and its amendments continually provide new interpretations with which the County must comply. The County’s FMLA policy is currently located in the County’s Personnel Code and, therefore, each time the Act is amended or a regulation is changed, a code amendment must be presented to the Board of Commissioners. In order to more efficiently keep FMLA policy updated, Human Resources recommends that the detailed FMLA language be removed from the Personnel Code and placed in an administrative policy that may be quickly updated as needed. The detailed language currently in the Personnel Code would be replaced with language that acknowledges the County’s intent to comply with FMLA and any relevant and applicable amendments and regulations. The Board unanimously approved the amendment on first reading at its February 7, 2011, meeting.

E. The Board will consider a tax refund request in the amount of $7,383. Records have been checked and the refund verified; therefore, the Tax Collector is asking for approval of the refund request. Under North Carolina General Statute 105-381, a taxpayer who has paid taxes may request a refund in writing for an amount paid through error.


The Board is expected to receive a report on delinquent 2010 real estate property taxes, in accordance with North Carolina General Statutes105-369(a), and will consider adopting a resolution directing the Catawba County Tax Collector to advertise the delinquent tax liens as prescribed in the Statute. As of January 31, 2011, delinquent real property taxes in Catawba County totaled $5,711,671, which represents 7.2% of the 2010 real property levy.