PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, MAY 5, 2008, 9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, NC
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider amending the County’s Animal Ordinance to make it easier to read, clarify complaint procedures, refine dangerous and vicious dog definitions, and consolidate sections previously scattered throughout the ordinance, and consider the proposed Annual Plan for the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council for fiscal year 2008-2009, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, May 5, 2008, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse, at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
The Board will consider requests from the Newton-Conover City Schools for appropriation of funds for an activity bus and the purchase of warehouse space; appropriation of lottery funds for renovations to the system’s administration building for use by the Health Science High School; and a letter of commitment to fund $322,000 in the County’s fiscal year 2008-09 budget for new bleachers, new flooring and lighting in the Newton-Conover High School gym; a request from Jenkins Elementary School to transfer funds remaining in a completed project to construct fencing and a retaining wall at that school; and will issue proclamations designating Foster Care Month, Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, Emergency Medical Services Week, National Police Week and Public Service Recognition Week, and present the County’s Finance Department with a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.
A. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring May 15 as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day and May 11 – 17, 2008 as National Police Week. The proclamation will recognize the men and women of the law enforcement agencies of Catawba County and its municipalities, who serve the public by safeguarding life and property, protecting them against violence and disorder and providing a vital public service, and direct that all flags on County property be flown at half-staff on May 15 in honor of those who have died to provide these protective services.
B. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring May 18-24 as Emergency Medical Services Week. The proclamation will recognize the Catawba County Emergency Medical Services teams that are ready to provide lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and engage in thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance their lifesaving skills and focus on the many ways Americans benefit daily from the knowledge and skills of these highly trained individuals.
C. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring May as Foster Care Month, to recognize that family is the foundation of our communities, the vital role foster families play in helping children and families heal, and the enduring and valuable contribution of foster parents and the child welfare professional staff working with them.
D. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring May 5-11 as Public Service Recognition Week to recognize that local, state and federal government employees are integral to the quality of life in Catawba County. Being closest to the people, local government leaves the strongest impression on its recipients, which places a great responsibility on County employees to provide exemplary customer service with compassion, empathy and understanding. The efficiency and effectiveness of government depends largely on these employees, who provide quality service on a daily basis. Catawba County employees touch the lives of all residents by providing a wide range of services that are specified within the proclamation, which expresses the Board’s “deep appreciation for the innovation and daily contributions Catawba County employees make to the lives of county citizens”.
E. The Board will present a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association to the County’s Finance Department. This award is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, awarded to the County for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, and it represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. Catawba County has now won this award for 26 consecutive years.
A. The Board will consider a proposed Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) Annual Plan for fiscal year 2008-2009, as required by the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention. The JCPC has identified the issues and factors which have an influence and impact upon delinquent and at-risk youth, and their families, in Catawba County. The Council also has identified the strategies and services most likely to reduce and/or prevent these delinquent behaviors. Under North Carolina General Statutes, the Council is required to submit an Annual Plan for 2008-2009 with goals, measurable objectives and corresponding outcomes. The Board of Commissioners approved the JCPC Funding Plan for 2008-2009 at its April 7, 2008 meeting. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this proposed plan.
B. The Board will consider a request from the Hickory Public Schools to transfer funds from the completed Jenkins Elementary heating, venting and air conditioning project, in order to install a fence and erect a retaining wall at Jenkins Elementary School. $375,000 was approved in the County’s 2007-2008 budget for the replacement of the HVAC system at Jenkins Elementary School. The work has been completed, with $20,000 remaining in the project. The transfer of these funds would enable the installation of a fence and a retaining wall at Jenkins Elementary. The fence would cover the perimeter of a playground and provide safety in an area that backs up to woods and houses. The retaining wall would take care of a water problem at an entrance to the school that is elevated, which causes rain to run across the entrance into the building. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this transfer of funds.
C. The Board will consider the Newton-Conover City Schools’ request to appropriate $19,856 to cover the increased cost of an activity bus purchased on a State contract. The County’s Fiscal Year 2006-07 budget included $55,000 for Newton-Conover City Schools to purchase a new activity bus. The cost used for this request was inadvertently based on a two year old State contract price. By the time the order was placed, the cost of the bus had increased to $74,856. The purchase was made and the amount over the appropriation was paid from the school’s per capita funds. The Newton-Conover City Board of Education is now requesting that the County appropriate $19,856 to replace these funds. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this appropriation.
D. The Board will consider a request by the Newton-Conover City Schools for a Letter of Commitment that $322,000 will be funded in the County’s fiscal year 2008-09 budget, to be used for the installation of new bleachers, new flooring and new lighting in the Newton-Conover High School gym, in conjunction with the installation of air conditioning in the gym, which was approved in the current year’s County budget. The Letter of Commitment would allow the system to complete this work during the summer months when class schedules at the high school are reduced. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the issuance of the Letter of Commitment.
E. The Board will consider Newton-Conover City Schools’ request to appropriate $155,000 for the purchase of warehouse property for system wide storage and the appropriation of $178,904 from 2006/07 lottery proceeds to be used for renovations to the administrative office building for the Health Science High School program. The health science program at Newton-Conover High School currently has 65 students. New registration numbers indicate it will grow to 110 students this fall. The increased enrollment will require the program to relocate to space available at the administrative office site. Needed renovations will include remodeling of four rooms, and improvements to two others rooms on the second floor that were not part of the original renovations to the building. HVAC installation and new windows will be part of the project. Plans for the program include using the old cafeteria building on the same site, currently used for storage of supplies, food service products, computers, office supplies and all forms of maintenance and custodial supplies. This would leave the system with no system wide storage space. A warehouse building located two blocks from the administrative building has approximately 12,000 square feet of space and is for sale for $147,000. With inspections, minor repairs and closing costs, the total cost is not expected to exceed $155,000. $178,904, plus interest, is currently available to Newton-Conover City Schools from 2006/07 lottery proceeds. The system is requesting that these funds be appropriated to be used toward renovations to the administrative office building for the health science high school program. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the appropriation be approved.
EMERGENCY SERVICES/ANIMAL SERVICES
The Board will consider proposed revisions to Chapter 6, Animals, of the Catawba County Code of Ordinances. The proposed revisions make the ordinance easier to read, clarify complaint procedures, refine dangerous and vicious dog definitions and consolidate sections that were previously scattered throughout the ordinance. The current dangerous and vicious dog definitions are confusing to Animal Control Officers and the public. The section regarding vicious dogs has been removed and the procedures for use with dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs have been made clearer and are now addressed in Article 6.
The following is a summary of the recommended changes, which will be more thoroughly detailed during this meeting:
A section of the Code, Section 6-l, will be added to reference the North Carolina General Statutes that grant statutory authority to the County with respect to animal control issues.
Some existing definitions in Section 6-3 will be revised and new definitions will added, for the following words or phrases: abandon, adequate shelter, dangerous dog, euthanize, nuisance, owner, potential rabies carrier, potentially dangerous dog, preventive measures, secure enclosure, and severe injury.
References in the current Ordinance to Chief Animal Control Officer would be replaced with Animal Services Manager, and all references to Animal Control as a division would be replaced with Animal Services.
Civil penalties would be increased in Section 6-10, to encourage citizens to be responsible pet owners. These penalties are comparable to the surrounding counties. The initial civil penalty fine is recommended to increase from $25 to $50. The current civil penalty of $100 for a dangerous dog violation would be removed. A civil penalty of $150 for any violation pertaining to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs would be added, and a civil penalty of $300 would be added for any violation of animal cruelty as defined in Chapter 6.
The general appeals procedure in Section 6-12 has been revised to address all appeals other than those for dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs. General appeals would be heard by the Emergency Services Director. Dangerous and potentially dangerous dog appeals would be heard by the County’s Dangerous Dog Appellate Board.
Article II would be changed from Animal Cruelty to Rabies Control and comply with North Carolina rabies laws.
Article III would be changed from Animal Nuisance to Animal Cruelty. The current Ordinance does not address any civil penalties for animal cruelty. A $300 civil penalty, which is consistent with other counties, would be added for any violation of animal cruelty.
The failure or refusal to report an injured domestic animal has been added as an example of animal cruelty.
Article IV would be changed from Stray and Abandoned Animals to Animal Nuisance. There are two major changes to this section. The first change deals with the number of days an animal owner has to redeem his or her animal from five (5) days to three (3) working days, to address overcrowding at the Animal Shelter and encourage the owners to redeem their animals in a timely manner. The second change is the addition of the term “preventive measures”, which would allow the Animal Services Manager to implement restrictions on animals declared a nuisance to prevent further infractions of the Ordinance, such as requiring an owner to restrain his or her animal to prevent it from creating a nuisance.
Article V would be changed from “Dangerous and Vicious Dogs and other Dangerous Animals” to “Stray or Abandoned Animals”. The major proposed changes to this section include a change in the number of days a person has to redeem an abandoned animal from ten (10) working days to three (3) working days. This will allow for the animal to be adopted sooner, which will help with overcrowding at the Animal Shelter. This recommendation is supported by research conducted by Animal Services staff showing that approximately 5% of stray or abandoned animals are reclaimed by their owners. Of those reclaimed, 95% were reclaimed within three days.
Article VI would be changed from “Keeping Swine” to “Dangerous and Potentially Dangerous Dog”. Proposed changes for this section are as follows:
1) A new dangerous dog section that would specify that a dog will be automatically declared dangerous if the dog has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person. The owner of the dog would have three (3) calendar days to appeal the decision determining the dog as dangerous. If the owner fails to appeal in the allotted time, or loses the appeal, the animal will be euthanized. In the current Ordinance, an owner has five days to file a Dangerous Dog appeal with the Dangerous Dog Appellate Board. A change to three days is consistent with the North Carolina General Statutes. Appeals of dogs declared as dangerous will be heard by the Dangerous Dog Appellate Board.
2) A new “potentially dangerous dog section” would define a “potentially dangerous dog” as a dog that kills or inflicted severe injury upon a domestic animal, approaches a person in a vicious or terrorizing manner in an apparent attitude of attack, or any dog that has inflicted an unprovoked bite to a human or animal. The owner of a dog that has been declared potentially dangerous will have three options: a) surrender the dog to the County; b) build an approved enclosure, or c) appeal the decision to the Dangerous Dog Appellate Board. The owner of the dog has three (3) calendar days to appeal the decision determining the dog as potentially dangerous. If the owner fails to appeal in the allotted time, the dog will become property of Catawba County. Because the dog has been deemed potentially dangerous, it is not suitable for adoption. In the best interest of public safety, Animal Services would euthanize the dog. If the owner loses the appeal, the owner must construct an enclosure as defined in Section 6-133 within 21 days. If the owner fails to build the enclosure in the allotted time, the animal will be euthanized.
This section also more clearly defines the specifications for the enclosure that would house a potentially dangerous dog, as well as the owner’s responsibility when owning a potentially dangerous dog.
Staff met with the Catawba County Humane Society regarding the proposed Ordinance changes. The Humane Society agrees with the ordinance revisions. All municipalities have been provided with a copy of the major changes to the revised ordinances and have responded with favorable comments. The Public Health Director has been made aware of the changes and also responded favorably. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the adoption of the above changes to Chapter 6, Animals, of the Catawba County Code of Ordinances.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464