PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
APRIL 2, 2007, 9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider a request to create a new staff position for code compliance, using available funds which would be transferred from the Planning Department, with code compliance becoming entirely a function of the County Department of Utilities and Engineering, and a tool to be used by the Department of Utilities and Engineering to assess and prioritize future utility line expansion projects; and will consider directing staff to negotiate an interlocal agreement between Burke County and Catawba County for the provision of mental health administrative services for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2007 following the Burke County Board of Commissioners’ decision to merge mental health services with Catawba County, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, April 2, 2007, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
The Board will also receive a report on a study on impact fees; consider a request to allow for the temporary removal of original death certificates from the Register of Deeds Office to allow for work to preserve those documents; hear a report on changes in State regulations on storm water management that will not change the way in which the County regulates these matters; a request from the City of Conover to designate a new Map Review Officer for the city, and a tax refund request. The Board will also issue proclamations for National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week; Administrative Professionals Week; Child Abuse Prevention Month, Public Health Month and for the Spring Litter Sweep.
A. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring April as Public Health Month to recognize the immeasurable contribution to the quality of life in Catawba County resulting from public health services to citizens. The benefits of the public health approach exist everywhere, everyday, for everybody, regardless of religious, ethnic or socioeconomic background. Public health efforts to control and eliminate infectious diseases, improve environmental sanitation and promote healthy lifestyle practices are vital for improved health status and increased life expectancy for our citizens.
B. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring April 8-14, 2007 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Problems resulting from crime, fire and other disasters affect all segments of our society and, if unabated, can undermine and erode the moral and economic strengths of our community. The men and women working in the Catawba County Communications Center are responsible for responding to hundreds of telephone calls from the general public each day for police, fire, and emergency medical assistance, and for dispatching assistance to help save lives and property. The proclamation recognizes their invaluable contribution to our quality of life, through their dedication and hard work.
C. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. The proclamation acknowledges that child abuse is a community problem and that finding solutions depends on involvement by people throughout the community. In 2006, Catawba County Social Services investigated 1,966 cases of alleged child abuse and neglect involving 3,955 children. 22 percent of these children were found to be in need of protection. 172 children were interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center in 2006 regarding allegations of child sexual abuse. The effects of child abuse are felt by whole communities, and need to be addressed by the entire community. The proclamation recognizes that effective child abuse prevention programs succeed because of partnerships created among social service agencies, schools, religious and civic organizations, law enforcement agencies, and the business community; and calls on all citizens to become more aware of the negative effects of child abuse and its prevention within the community, and become involved in supporting parents in raising children in a safe, nurturing environment.
D. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring April 22-28, 2007 as Administrative Professionals Week. Businesses, industry, and public and private organizations are served by administrative professionals in many diverse areas and on every level of operations. Administrative professionals make great contributions to the economic well-being of the businesses and industries of Catawba County by demonstrating the capability to efficiently and promptly address the unexpected in a professional manner, to prioritize effectively, and to provide a high level of proficiency. Administrative professionals uphold the highest ethical standards of their profession and contribute to the success of their companies through dedication and commitment to excellence. Administrative professionals employed by Catawba County Government play an invaluable and integral part in the execution of County services and programs.
E. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring April 14-28, 2007 as Litter Sweep Weeks in Catawba County. During these weeks, citizens who bring trash collected from roadsides, parks, lakesides and other common areas in special orange bags, or recyclable materials collected from the same areas in blue bags, to the Blackburn Landfill or one of the County's five convenience centers may dispose of the bags free of charge. Citizens may also call the North Carolina Department of Transportation Office at 828-466-5519 to arrange for pickup of orange bags only. The bags are available at the Utilities & Engineering Department on the second floor of the Government Center in Newton; the Cooperative Extension Office off Highway 321 Business in Newton; the NC Department of Transportation's County Maintenance Office at 1302 Prison Camp Road, south of Newton; and at Garbage Disposal Service's office at 4062 Section House Road in Hickory.
A. The Board will consider allowing for the temporary removal of original death certificates from the Register of Deeds Office, in order for preservation work to be done on those documents. These death certificates are in seven books, including death certificates from 1945, 1950, 1957, 1968 and 1969. The Register of Deeds Office has proposed to begin a long-range plan of preservation with these seven books, in accordance with North Carolina General Statute §132 7. These seven books are in the greatest need for repair. The Board approved funding for this project in the County’s 2006-2007 budget. So as not to have too many books out of the Register of Deeds Office at the same time, the preservation work will be done in small portions. The County will contract with RL Ballard & Associates, of New Bern, North Carolina for ungluing, punching holes and replacing the death certificates in new binders within 10 business days. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends approval of the temporary removal of these seven death certificate books, for the purpose of repair, restoration and rebinding.
B. The Board will consider a request from the City of Conover to appoint Mr. Q. Lance Hight as Map Review Officer, by adoption of a resolution. The resolution also removes Mr. Christopher Niver as a Review Officer for the City of Conover.
On July 17, 1997, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified Senate Bill 875, Maps and Plats Law. This law requires all counties to appoint Review Officers who review each plat or map before it is recorded and certify that it meets the statutory requirements for mapping. The law states that individuals have to be appointed by name, not by job title, so any time a change occurs in staffing, a new Review Officer has to be appointed and approved by resolution of the Board of Commissioners and subsequently recorded in the Register of Deed’s Office.
C. The Board will consider a tax refund request totaling $101.16. Records have been checked and this refund verified, so the Tax Collector recommends approval. Under N.C. General Statute 105-381, a taxpayer who has paid his or her taxes may request a refund in writing for an amount paid through error.
The Board will receive a presentation on a study of impact fees in Catawba County At a planning retreat in May 2006, the Board was presented with various revenue options as it continues to explore ways of finding additional revenue other than through property taxes. One of those options was the establishment of impact fees on new residential development in Catawba County. Catawba is one of three counties in North Carolina, along with Chatham and Orange, that has State legislation authorizing the County to implement impact fees. Catawba County is the only one of these counties not currently charging impact fees. During the retreat, staff was instructed to move forward with an impact fee study to determine the cost of new housing development on County services.
In August 2006, staff selected TischlerBise, a fiscal, economic and planning consultant, to prepare the impact fee study due to its experience nationally and with other North Carolina counties. Staff and the consultant decided the impact fee study should only include the costs of new development related to schools, not other services included in the County’s legislative authority (roads, water/sewer, libraries, etc.). TischlerBise has completed its study, after interviews with staff from the Western Piedmont Council Of Governments, all three school systems and the County.
TischlerBise used two methodologies to calculate the amount of impact fees by school system: incremental expansion and cost recovery. The incremental expansion method is used to provide additional fee revenue to expand or provide additional facilities to accommodate new development. This approach was used for the Catawba County School System because that system is at or over capacity at all grade levels (elementary, middle and high schools). For the Hickory Public Schools, the incremental approach was used for elementary and high schools, based on capacity at those grade levels, while the cost recovery approach was used for the middle schools and land because the system has excess capacity in those areas. Since the Newton-Conover City Schools previously identified one new elementary school to relieve capacity issues over the next four years, the consultant was asked to provide fees for one elementary school. Since that time, the Newton-Conover City Schools has updated its priority list and a new middle school has replaced the elementary school. TischlerBise agreed to incorporate this change in its impact fee model, using the incremental approach for the school since it will provide additional capacity to the school system, while using the cost recovery approach for land currently being held by the system since it has available land at this time.
The fee calculations include a credit for future principal payments on school improvements. Because the County financed a portion of recent school construction, new residential units that would pay an impact fee will also contribute to future principal payments on the remaining debt through property taxes paid to the County. This would result in double-taxation unless this future debt component was subtracted from the calculation of the fee.
The impact fees of new single-family and multi-family residential units, by system, are calculated as follows:
Catawba County School System – single-family $6,842, multi-family $1,992
Hickory Public Schools – single-family $7,318, multi-family $3,855
Newton-Conover City Schools- single-family $2,196, multi-family $416
Hickory’s fee calculations are higher than the other two systems due to the fact that the level of service (mainly building square feet per student, especially at the high school level), is higher than in the other two systems.
With full implementation of the impact fee model, estimated annual revenues (based on last year’s building permit data) would be as follows:
Catawba County Schools - $4,659,402 (681 single family units x $6,842) + $19,920 (10 multi-family units x $1,992) = $4,679,322. This amount would leverage $47 million in debt over 15 years.
Hickory Public Schools = $321,992 (44 single family units x $7,318 with no multi-family units recorded last year). This amount would leverage $3.2 million in debt over 15 years.
Newton-Conover Schools - $116,388 (53 single family units x $2,196) + $416 (1 multi-family unit x $416) = $116,804. This amount would leverage $1.2 million in debt over 15 years.
The fees noted above are the maximum supportable by law and would not be a requirement. No other county in North Carolina charges the full, supportable amount per new residential housing unit. Orange County Schools, for example, charges $3,000 per single-family unit and $4,407 for Chapel-Hill Schools, also in that county, significantly lower than the “maximum supportable” fee. The Board is expected to accept this report for information only.
UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
A. The Board will consider a joint request from the County Planning Office and the Utilities and Engineering Office to approve a new staff position and a budget revision with regard to code compliance. Catawba County’s approach to code compliance has been complaint driven. Staff has not actively sought out violations; but were reactive to issues that surfaced, based on information provided by citizens or other interested parties. During discussions surrounding the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) and home occupations, the Board expressed an interest in being more proactive with regard to code compliance. On November 5, 2006, a work session was held during which the Board discussed home occupations and approaches to code compliance. Information was provided relative to the costs to enhance the program with additional staff time and materials. The Board adopted the UDO on February 5, 2007 and, in its motion, expressed intent to create a second code compliance position and additional legal support, to assist with the proactive compliance of the new ordinance. Staff proposes to move code compliance to the Utilities and Engineering Department, which currently performs code compliance functions regarding solid waste and erosion control. The existing code compliance employee associated with Planning and Community Development and the existing Utilities and Engineering code compliance staff, currently known as Code Enforcement Technicians, would be classified identically as Code Compliance Technicians. The name change makes a significant statement about a new approach to addressing non-compliance issues. The re-designed program will place a much greater emphasis on working with the public to achieve compliance with all County codes. Code Compliance Technicians would be in the field to help citizens gain compliance with local ordinances and laws. The County’s code enforcement activities will rest with the County Attorney’s office.
Code Compliance Technicians would be cross-trained in the areas of erosion control, solid waste, and zoning and land use. Each code compliance technician would have identical job duties and responsibilities. In anticipation of having three code compliance technicians, County staff has proposed dividing the County into three geographic areas to provide consistency and facilitate good working relationships. Each compliance technician would have identical responsibilities for administering the code compliance program, such as junk vehicles, signs, business types and locations, solid waste and erosion control. Existing legal staff would provide any additional legal support needed to support the anticipated work generated by a third Code Compliance Technician working to help citizens achieve compliance. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the creation and funding of a new position titled Code Compliance Technician, and the shifting of an existing Code Compliance position and costs to Utilities and Engineering. If this additional position is approved, the Board is expected to receive a report on the progress and results of the program after the first six months of operation entirely under the Catawba County Department of Utilities and Engineering.
B. The Board will receive a report on the impact of full implementation, by the State of North Carolina, of Federal Environmental Protection Agency National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, Phase II, often referred to as “stormwater management” regulations. These regulations, which will fully take effect on July 1, 2007, will not change present Catawba County policies. The municipalities of Brookford, Claremont, Conover, Hickory, Long View, Maiden and Newton will be required to address six minimum measures involving public education and outreach, public participation and involvement, detection and elimination of illicit discharge, construction site runoff control, post construction runoff control and pollution prevention. Staff with the Catawba County Department of Utilities and Engineering will continue to be involved in overseeing post-construction requirements under Phase II, within watershed protection areas, along with 33 other North Carolina counties. The State will continue to oversee post-construction requirements outside of watershed protection areas. County staff will work to insure that new development doesn’t adversely impact downstream entities. For low-density development (under 24% built upon) vegetated conveyances are to be used to the “maximum extent practicable”, as defined under State and County regulations. For high-density developments, engineered controls will be required to control and treat the first inch of rainfall.
C. The Board will receive a report on a Utility Decision Tool that has been developed by the Department of Utilities and Engineering to assess and prioritize proposed water and sewer capital improvement projects. It takes into account project cost estimates and the type and amount of community benefits estimated to be derived from a given project. It provides a method to assign relative values to the various benefits of a given project, which will help staff determine the effects of any trade-offs among those benefits. County staff are expected to report that the tool will allow staff to make better decisions regarding the prioritization of future water and sewer capital improvement projects, better explain those decisions, and improve the department’s budgeting process. There are currently $160 million in identified water and sewer improvement needs in the county, with water and sewer fund revenues averaging between $2.5 and $4 million per year. The average utility project costs $2.188 million. The tool is expected to level the playing field for the competition for resources and result in a prioritization of projects according to their overall value.
The Board will consider acknowledging the action taken by the Burke County Board of Commissioners on March 27, 2007 to partner with Catawba County to administer mental health services, and direct County staff to negotiate an interlocal agreement between Burke County and Catawba County. At its March 26, 2007 meeting, the Burke County Board of Commissioners voted to withdraw from Foothills LME (Local Managing Entity) and partner with Catawba County to administer mental health services. The Catawba County LME Board met on March 27, 2007, discussed the merger options presented to Catawba County and endorsed the action of the Burke County Board of Commissioners. The Catawba LME board agreed that administration of mental health services would be provided through interlocal agreement between Burke County and Catawba County, effective July 1, 2007. The interlocal agreement would be in place for one year while the details of the full merger are addressed. It is the intent to have the full merger completed and implemented by July 1, 2008. Staff recommends the Board acknowledge the action of the Burke County Board of Commissioners to withdraw from Foothills LME and merge with Catawba County, and direct staff to negotiate an interlocal agreement between Burke County and Catawba County for the provision of mental health administrative services for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2007 and express its intent to merge fully with Burke County effective July 1, 2008.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464