PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, JUNE 7, 2010, 9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, NC
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will adopt a fiscal year 2010-2011 County budget, and consider approval of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council’s annual plan update and recommended State funding allocation when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, June 7, 2010, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse, at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
The Board will also consider approving a joint application with the City of Hickory for a federal Justice Assistance Grant with the funds to be used, if awarded, to purchase a software system that helps criminal investigators determine facts in a case and provide still photos or video that can be used in court; the supplemental appropriation of $674,908 in State funds for day care subsidies; and a budget revision to allocate $18,330 in additional funds received from the State to Mental Health Partners for the Criminal Justice Partnership Program.
The Board will consider the submission of a joint grant application with the City of Hickory for a 2010 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) from the U.S. Department of Justice. Catawba County’s share of the grant funds would be $14,555, with no local match required. JAG funding allocation is based on population and violent crime statistics. The 2010 JAG award directives specify that the grant be used to improve or enhance law enforcement programs, the grant application be reviewed by the governing body within 30 days of application, that there be opportunity for public comment prior to submission of an application, and that no local match is required. Should these funds be awarded, they will be used to purchase a “Forensic Digital Video/Image Clarification Solution”. This is a laptop driven system with hardware attachments to pull video from many sources such as phones, surveillance, or security systems. The software provides forensic video enhancement. These tool help criminal investigators determine facts in a case and provide still photos or video that can be used in court. Evidence captured on videotape has been found to be more accurate, more reliable, and more convincing than eyewitness testimony alone. Use of the system can also increase the plea rate, which would save court time and expenses. Staff will be trained to make the best possible use of the video analysis from crime scenes to identify and prosecute the person(s) responsible for crime(s). The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this grant application.
The Board will consider accepting a supplemental appropriation in the amount of $674,908 in State Child Care Subsidy funding. Day Care subsidy is a program that reaches thousands of children every year in Catawba County to provide a safe and educational environment for children from birth through age 12. These funds also supplement the economy by supporting the working poor to maintain or gain employment. Each year, Social Services receives Day Care funding from two State sources: the Child Care and Development Funding and Smart Start. These funds are used solely to provide Day Care scholarships to families/children who meet eligibility guidelines set by the State. Although the funding amounts tend to fluctuate each year, the amount is usually known in advance and budgeted accordingly. However, in Fiscal Year 2009-10, the State was awarded Federal ARRA funding for Day Care. These funds were provided to help support changes in eligibility and special initiatives such as providing Day Care for children of parents seeking employment. Although these funds must be drawn down based on actual expenditures, the allocation provided Social Services with the possibility of supporting 10% more children in the current fiscal year. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends Board approval of this supplemental appropriation.
A. CRIMINAL JUSTICE PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM
The Board will consider a budget revision to allocate additional funds received from the State, in the amount of $18,330, to Mental Health Partners (MHP) for the Criminal Justice Partnership Program (CJPP). The County has routinely received State dollars to fund the CJPP. These funds are pass-through funds administered by MHP. When the Fiscal Year 2009-10 budget was completed, the County planned for total CJPP funding of $104,459. The final State allocation was $122,789. In order to send these funds to MHP, the budget needs to be increased by $18,330. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve this budget revision.
B. JUVENILE CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL
The Board will consider an annual funding plan for the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC). The recommended County budget for Fiscal Year 2010-2011 already includes these allocations, but the Board is required to review and approve the plan prior to submission to the State. Staff has recommended that the funding allocations be approved as submitted and that a risk and needs assessment be approved with one change. Staff recommended that the Board place residential services as priority number three rather than number eight, reflecting the County’s investment and long standing priority. Catawba County remains the only county to operate its own group homes. Other counties contract this service to outside providers, sending juveniles out of county to programs that only provide the residential piece with little to no other services that help prepare juveniles to return home. Catawba County has a long standing investment in its group homes, which were begun and sustained through earlier State versions of JCPC funding. Juveniles in group homes have typically received other services outside of group homes that haven’t worked, and now need more intensive services. Juveniles in the group home setting receive a vast array of services that are ranked higher on the list, such as psychological counseling, substance abuse counseling, family counseling and tutoring. These more intensive services are integrated into their residential services through Social Services’ Family N.E.T program, rather than provided through a variety of outside vendors, creating a more coordinated approach.
State funding levels remain questionable given current economic conditions. This recommendation better aligns the needs assessment with approved funding levels, better reflects County priorities, and protects higher priority programs in the event of targeted reversions. The risk assessment comparison data indicates that adjudications resulting in group home placements increased by 50% from Fiscal Year 2007/08 which suggests a greater need for group homes than the prior year, when the priority ranking was sixth. Catawba County also has an elevated risk compared to the state for a variety of factors that are sometimes associated with group home referrals including: runaways, school behavior problems, relationships with peers, parents willing but unable to supervise, family and individual substance abuse, mental health needs, marginal family supervision skills and conflicts in the home.
The proposed funding allocations for the next fiscal year maintain the allocations originally approved this year, prior to a 5% reduction in State funding, with the exception of three programs: the Parenting Network, Conflict Resolution Center and Project Challenge. Both the Parenting Network and Conflict Resolution Center proposed additional programming to serve a larger number of juveniles. Funding was increased to the Parenting Network from $24,983 to $26,637 and the Conflict Resolution Center from $20,350 to $21,539. The increased funding to these two programs came from a decrease in funding to Project Challenge of $2,843. During monitoring this year it was discovered that only a small minority of juveniles are being sent to the Wilderness Camp, yet this program component is still listed as a primary portion of their service and a reason why it is successful. When questioned, program staff indicated this had become more of a reward for completing the program than a primary portion of the program. The JCPC chose not to fund the Wilderness Camp next year and to devote those funds to additional programming. The recommendation of the JCPC Finance Committee is that, if the State reduces funding next year, the increased funding to the Parenting Network and Conflict Resolution Center be the first reductions. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this plan with the change in priority of residential services as priority three.
OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS
The Board will adopt a Catawba County budget for Fiscal Year 2010-11. The recommended budget in the amount of $202,234,759, maintains the current property tax rate, as promised with the passage of the quarter cent sales tax. The proposed total budget is down 18.7% from last year, primarily due to capital projects, and funding for 39 positions is eliminated. During the past two years, budget reductions of $6.5 million have been made.
The projected tax base for Fiscal Year 2010-11 is $15.6 billion and includes real property, personal property, and vehicles. The proposed budget would maintain the County’s property tax rate of $0.5350 cents per $100 of valuation, which is the eighth lowest tax rate of the 25 urban counties in North Carolina, those with a population over 100,000. That rate is 31st lowest of all 100 counties in North Carolina.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464