1. Call to Order
2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
4. Approval of the minutes from the Regular Meeting of March 15, 2010
5. Recognition of Special Guests
6. Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda
a. Public Health Month Proclamation. Presented to Jennifer McCracken, Health Services Manager.
b. National County Government Month Proclamation. Presented to Jennifer McCracken, Health Services Manager.
c. Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation. Presented to Deborah Johnson, Child Advocacy Center Director and Pam Brooks, Social Worker Supervisor III.
8. Public Hearing:
Public Hearing to Consider the Financing of an Industrial Project and Requesting Reallocation from the NC Federal Tax Reform Allocation Committee for $19.0 Million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds for Pierre Foods, Inc. Presented by James Mitchell, Chairman, Catawba County Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Authority and Nathan Huret, Existing Industry Coordinator, Catawba County Economic Development Corporation.
10. Departmental Reports:
A. Sheriff’s Office
Ordinance Preventing Solicitation on Streets – Second Reading. Presented by Sheriff L. David Huffman.
B. Emergency Services
Resolution to Approve Financing by Bandys Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department. Presented by Fire and Rescue Manager Mark Pettit and Bandys Fire Chief Jason Drum.
Request for Transfer of Construction Funds from Truck Driver Training to Roofing, $525,000 Increase for the Student Center Project and $95,000 for General Capital Items. Presented by Jennifer Mace, Budget Manager.
D. Catawba County Schools
Request for Transfer of Funds from Snow Creek Elementary Construction for Bandys and Bunker Hill High School Additions. Presented by Jennifer Mace, Budget Manager.
E. Public Health
Increase to Home Health Budget due to Increased Caseload. Presented by Alice Layne, Public Health Nursing Supervisor.
F. Newton-Conover Schools
Financing for Newton-Conover Middle School. Presented by Finance Director Rodney Miller and Newton-Conover Schools Superintendent Dr. Barry Redmond.
11. Other Items of Business
2010 State and Federal Legislative Agenda. Presented by Assistant County Manager Lee Worsley.
12. Attorneys’ Report
13. Manager’s Report
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: Individuals needing assistance should contact the County Clerk at 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 http://www.catawbacountync.gov.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting will take place on Monday, April 19, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.
PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2010, 9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the use of Recovery Zone Facility Bonds to fund a proposed expansion of Pierre Foods’ Claremont facility that would retain Pierre’s current employment of 717 jobs in Catawba County, may create 500 new jobs, and would not be a financial obligation to the County. The Board will also consider approving the construction and furnishing of a proposed new Newton-Conover Middle School, with at least $5.4 million of the $20.8 million cost to come through interest-free bonds available through federal “stimulus” dollars when it meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, April 5, 2010, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton, NC.
The Board will consider a 2010 Legislative Agenda listing the issues the Board will work toward with its delegations to the North Carolina General Assembly and U.S. Congress; a proposed increase in funding for the Home Health budget to meet an increased case load; approval of proposed financing, with no financial obligation to the County, by the Bandys Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department for construction of two new stations, which will reduce insurance costs for some residents; requests from Catawba Valley Community College to transfer unspent funds from the budget for a completed Driver Training Facility to an East Campus Renovation Project, and increased funding for a Student Center Project and equipment; the transfer of funds in a completed Snow Creek Elementary School project budget for use on Bandys and Bunker Hill High School alteration projects; and a second reading on a proposed ordinance prohibiting solicitation on streets, highways or rights-of-way in unincorporated areas of the county, to protect the safety of motorists and pedestrians. The Board will also issue proclamations declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, National County Government Month and Public Health Month.
A. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring April as Public Health Month to recognize 130 years of public health service to the residents of North Carolina and the efforts of public health departments to control and eliminate infections disease, improve environmental sanitation and promote healthy lifestyle practices, which have resulted in improved health status and increased life expectancy for North Carolina residents.
B. The Board will issue a proclamation recognizing April as National County Government Month. The proclamation commends counties for providing essential public services to 300 million Americans and, in keeping with the 2010 theme of County Government Month, “Healthy Counties”, commends county governments for delivering health services through public hospitals and clinics, local health departments, long-term care facilities, and substance abuse treatment and coverage programs for the uninsured, among many programs related to good health. Through a series of links at www.catawbacountync.gov and news releases through other media, Catawba County will celebrate the month by highlighting regular events and activities scheduled for April, which are offered by the County every month of the year, and which spotlight the many ways Public Health, Cooperative Extension, Social Services and the County's Parks Division help make Catawba County a healthier county.
C. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Month to recognize that the majority of child abuse cases stem from stressful situations and conditions that are preventable in an engaged, supportive community and to urge citizens, community agencies, faith groups, medical facilities and business to provide this support for families.
The Board will hold a public hearing to consider a request by Pierre Foods for $19 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds for an expansion project which includes the construction of an approximately 45,000 square-foot expansion and various improvements to Pierre Foods’ existing Claremont facility, including the acquisition and installation of machinery and equipment. Much like Industrial Revenue Bond projects, there is no financial obligation to Catawba County or North Carolina through the use of Recovery Zone Facility Bonds. The money comes from private investors and the bonds are sold on national capital markets to insurance companies and bond and mutual funds. The project would retain Pierre’s current employment of 717 and could create 500 new jobs with a total average wage of $26,461. Sixteen of the 500 positions would pay more than $46,000, well above the County’s average wage. At 1217 employees, Pierre Foods would be one of the top five private employers in the county. A $19 million expansion would generate approximately $199,000 in annual combined tax revenue for Catawba County and the City of Claremont (prior to depreciation and any incentive agreements).
The Board will consider adopting on second reading an ordinance prohibiting solicitation on streets, highways or rights-of-way in unincorporated areas of the county, to protect the safety of motorists and pedestrians. The Sheriff’s Office has received an increasing number of calls from citizens concerned about individuals soliciting at intersections and from the side of the road. North Carolina General Statute 20-175(d) specifically authorizes local governments to enact ordinances prohibiting a person from soliciting from a roadway. Individuals who solicit from the road put themselves and the public at risk. Solicitation activity is a distraction for drivers, which can result in accidents causing injury to persons and property. This prohibition cannot apply to individuals engaged in the distribution of newspapers on the non-traveled portion of the road, except when those distribution activities impede the normal movement of traffic. This exception is not specified in the proposed ordinance, on the advice of the County Attorney who believes the exception will not stand up to a constitutional challenge. The ordinance will allow law enforcement to more effectively deal with this safety issue and was approved on first reading by the Board on March 15, 2010.
The Board will consider adopting a resolution approving financing in an amount up to $1,500,000 for the construction of two fire stations for the Bandys Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department. This is not considered a financial obligation for the County but will allow the Fire Department to receive an interest rate of 5.00% on a 20 year loan, as compared to a 7.00% rate without the resolution, resulting in approximately $400,000 in savings. Approval is required under Internal Revenue Service codes in order for the Bandys Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department to obtain a more favorable interest rate. The Fire Department plans to demolish its current station at 1611 Buffalo Shoals Road and build a new 13,000 square foot station that will function as its headquarters station. The current station was built in 1962 and does not have the capacity, or functionality, now needed for the department. The second station will be located at 4849 Highway 16 South. The construction of this new station will provide coverage to areas that presently do not fall within the current 5 or 6 mile fire insurance rating areas. 229 properties that are currently unrated or rated 9S are projected to be improved to a 5 rating. The citizens in these areas can anticipate reduced insurance costs. The Fire Department held a required public hearing on March 8 after published notice, in accordance with the Internal Revenue code, and no public opposition to the financing was presented. The Board of Commissioners’ Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends adoption of this resolution.
CATAWBA VALLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
The Board will consider a request from CVCC to transfer $183,299 from the completed Multi-use Driver Training Facility project to an East Campus Renovations project; an increased appropriation of $525,000 for a Student Center Project, and an increased appropriation of $95,000 in general capital funds. CVCC originally planned to construct a new Truck Driver Training Facility with classroom space and several paved acres. After review, a decision was made to maintain the classroom at the East Campus, saving $183,299. CVCC is requesting that these funds be transferred to the East Campus renovations project, to cover overages projected in a roofing project planned for the East Campus, Paap, and Engineering buildings.
In October 2008, CVCC requested an increase of $525,000 for a Student Center project, which was projected to exceed budget. This request was approved in the current year County budget, but the total project budget was never increased to reflect the new amount.
CVCC normally receives $900,000 from the State for equipment. This year the allocation was only $665,000. The college has over $1.6 million in equipment needs that it cannot meet with current funding levels. CVCC has requested that the County provide a one-time increase in capital contribution of $95,000 to assist with these needs, which include $44,500 in general equipment purchases and the following energy saving equipment: installation of a two-stage heat gas furnace for $4500;installation of a two ton Gas Pak with two stage heat capabilities for $3000; and the purchase of software ($8000) and testing simulators ($25,000) for troubleshooting of equipment such as gas, oil and electric furnaces, air conditioners, and heat pumps. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of these requests.
CATAWBA COUNTY SCHOOLS
The Board will consider a transfer of $90,000 from projected remaining funds in the Snow Creek Elementary School Construction project to the Bandys ($55,000) and Bunker Hill ($35,000) addition projects, to cover cost overages encountered in the excavation of both sites. The Bandys High School addition project ran into several unforeseen issues during the excavation of the site that resulted in additional costs to complete the project. Leakage at an underground drainage system resulted in unusable soil which had to be removed and, in some locations, deeper and wider footings for building support had to be installed. Main water line and sewer lines also had to be rerouted, resulting in additional cost. As a result, an additional $55,000 is needed to complete this project. The Bunker Hill High School addition project ran into similar issues but to a lesser degree, as items were discovered during excavation of the site that resulted in additional cost to complete the project. There was work to an existing sewer line resulting in additional cost, and additional fire alarm devices, wiring, and conduit that were omitted from the plans were required to be added. As a result, an additional $35,000 is needed to complete this project. Both projects had contingency funds, but the costs associated with these unforeseen issues exceeded those contingencies. Catawba County Schools Construction Manager, Rick Sain, projects remaining funds of $155,000 in the Snow Creek Elementary project that could cover the increased costs of the other two projects. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of these requests.
The Board will consider increasing the overall Home Health budget by $136,613, to address growing citizen need. These additional costs will be covered by earned revenues. No County funds are included in the Home Health budget. Catawba County Public Health’s Home Health Program has experienced an increase in citizens’ service demand during the current fiscal year. Home Health’s average monthly patient caseload for July 2008 through January 2009 was 437. From July 2009 through January 2010, the average monthly patient caseload increased to 490, more than a 12% increase for the same service period and an average of 57 more patients served each month. The budget increase will allow Home Health to continue to serve approximately 57 more patients per month than are reflected in the current budget. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this request.
The Board will consider financing, in the amount of $20.8 million, for the construction and furnishing of a new Newton-Conover Middle School. At least $5.4 million of the $20.8 million total would come from $9.7 million allocated to Catawba County from Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCB) made available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. These bonds are intended to offer an interest-free option to local governments for the financing of school construction projects.
The Newton-Conover City Schools has targeted as its top priority the construction of a new middle school to replace the existing Newton Conover Middle School, which will be converted into an elementary school. Plans for the new middle school are based on the design of Northview and Grandview Middle Schools, for a multi-story school appropriate for limited acreage. The 30 acre site owned by the Newton-Conover City Schools has more than sixty feet of elevation, requiring a multi-story building. The project was planned for the current four-year school construction cycle, at a cost of $21 million.
The County intends to finance this project, and the renovation of Arndt Middle School later this fiscal year, with the use of QSCBs. The Board of Commissioners approved an application for QSCBs last fall. Catawba County received an allocation of $9.7 million from QSCBs in 2009, with $5.4 million pledged to be used towards the Newton-Conover Middle School project. An additional 2010 QSCB allocation is expected to be announced by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction within the next month. The most recent transactions involving QSCBs in other counties across North Carolina have been financed at a 2% rate. But the U.S. Congress has passed legislation that would offer a rebate to local governments for the interest paid on the bonds, effectively giving local governments such as Catawba County a 0% rate.
Once the 2010 QSCB allocations are announced, the County will attempt to issue 2009 and 2010 QSCBs at a 0% rate, and finance the balance of the two projects under traditional financing, with an interest rate of 4.0-4.5% expected. This type of financing consists of pledging the asset acquired or constructed as collateral for the loan in case of default. Since the County does not own the land on which the middle school will be built, the Newton-Conover Board of Education must convey the land to the County in order for the County to borrow the funds for the new school. The County will, in turn, lease the new school and land to the Board of Education for its use, and at the end of the financing term, transfer all rights to the property back to the school system. In the current year budget, the County set aside $600,000 for this project. All local governments in North Carolina that borrow funds greater than $500,000, or for longer than five years to maturity, must receive approval by the Local Government Commission (LGC), a division of the NC Department of State Treasurer. It is anticipated that the LGC will consider this project at its May 4th or June 1st meetings in Raleigh. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this financing for a new Newton-Conover Middle School.
OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS
The Board will consider proposed 2010 State and Federal Legislative Agendas. Each year, the Board adopts the agendas to highlight those legislative issues that have local importance. The recommended agendas were developed in collaboration with County department heads, the Catawba County School System, Hickory Public Schools, Newton-Conover City Schools, Catawba Valley Community College, Catawba County Chamber of Commerce and all of the county’s municipalities.
The proposed State Legislative Agenda, for the Short Session of the North Carolina General Assembly scheduled to begin on May 12, 2010 includes: 1) support an increase to $35,000 in the Homestead Exclusion income limit to provide property tax relief for senior citizens; 2) support a fairer distribution method in the School Capital Fund Formula and lottery proceeds; 3) oppose the transfer of responsibility for North Carolina’s secondary road infrastructure to counties, the elimination or decrease in current road infrastructure funding levels for municipalities, or the transfer of any State maintained roads to municipalities; 4) oppose any State efforts to force additional unfunded mandates or take away local revenues as a result of the State budget crisis; 5) oppose attempts to eliminate the prohibition on collective bargaining for public employees; 6) support greater flexibility in the use of E-911 funds, by encouraging adoption of the State 911 Study Group’s recommendations, in full; 7) oppose attempts to reduce the property tax base, which leads to more burden on property taxpayers; 8) support an increase in the $40 reimbursement rate for state inmates in county jails and reinstatement of an $18 misdemeanant reimbursement; 9) support an exemption of State sales tax on purchases made by local school systems; 10) support the restoration of financial incentives by the State for counties opting to be “Electing Counties” for Social Services programming; 11) support an increase in the reimbursement rate for local government legal work related to in rem foreclosures; 12) support an increase in State funding for Child Advocacy Centers; 13) support a rate increase for Medicaid and State mental health services; 14) support flexible local revenue options to reduce the burden on the property taxpayer; 15) support legislation facilitating target industry sectors and encouraging the County’s competitiveness as a whole; 16) support maintaining local control of the North Carolina ABC System and preservation of local revenues received from the system, and 17) work with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners regarding local preferences in purchasing.
The proposed Federal Legislative Agenda for the upcoming session of the United State Congress includes: 1) oppose efforts to require collective bargaining for public or private employees; 2) support Federal assistance in the funding of a regional wastewater re-use system which will benefit the Catawba County EcoComplex; 3) support Federal assistance in funding of wood waste and bio-solids gasification and green energy facility; 4) oppose new EPA Ozone Standards; 5) support implementation of a streamlined sales tax; 6) support the permanent restoration of an ambulance fee schedule as stated in the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008; 7) support increased local funding, incentives and community-based surveillance and communication systems regarding disease spread related to a pandemic flu threat; 8) support and encourage quicker deployment of Next Generation 911 initiative; 9) support improvements to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) and other safety net programs so all families have necessary work supports and TANF focuses on the positive outcomes for families and reducing poverty; 10) support increases to funding for Older Americans Act services to help older Americans remain independent in their homes and communities; 11) support implementation of the Elder Justice Act (Senate Bill 795); 12) support increases to Social Services Block Grant funding; 13) oppose continued cuts to the child support program; 14) support delinking Aid to Families with Dependent Children from the IV-E Program; 15) support the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act; and 16) support extension of the Federal Medicaid assistance participation rate subsidy/increase. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board adopt the proposed Federal and State Legislative Agenda for 2010.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464