PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, JULY 21, 2008, 7:00 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, NC
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on a proposed application to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for a fiscal year 2008-2009 Rural Operating Assistance Program Grant, and consider a request from Garbage Disposal Service for a 4.3% increase to the service portion of the company's rates, due to a new State-mandated $2 per ton solid waste disposal tax and rising costs, primarily for fuel, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 21, 2008, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
The Board will also consider a proposed partnership and building lease agreement with Appalachian State University for 1) operation of a biodiesel testing facility that will assist the County in producing biodiesel fuel from its EcoComplex and locally grown crops, and assist emerging biodiesel fuel producers in western North Carolina and 2) the construction of a multipurpose building, which will accommodate the university's bio-energy lab and research equipment and the County's White Goods Freon recovery operation; hear a report from the North Carolina Department of Transportation on the Secondary Road Improvement Plan for Catawba County for fiscal year 2008-2009, approved by the North Carolina Board of Transportation; and consider the allocation of funds from Catawba Valley Community College to pay for a Sheriff's Deputy position to provide security at the college's East Campus; a resolution to allow for tax-exempt financing of up to $1.3 million, which will not obligate any County funds, by Sherrills Ford and Terrell Fire and Rescue for the purchase of two fire trucks and construction of a fire station on Burris Road, and a tax refund request.
A. The Board will receive a report from Mr. Rubin Chandler, Maintenance Engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, on the Secondary Road Improvement Plan for Catawba County approved by the North Carolina Department of Transportation for fiscal year 2008-2009. Since North Carolina law gives the North Carolina Board of Transportation the authority to approve these projects, the Board of Commissioners will receive this report for information only.
The Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed application for a fiscal year 2008-2009 Rural Operating Assistance Program grant. Funds from this North Carolina Department of Transportation grant are used to provide public transportation for the residents of Catawba County. The grant includes funding for three programs: the Elderly and Disabled Transportation Assistance Program (EDTAP), Work First Transitional/Employment Transportation Assistance Program and Rural General Public (RGP) Program. EDTAP provides operating assistance funds for transportation of the elderly and persons with disabilities to allow these individuals to reside for a longer period in their homes, thereby enhancing their quality of life. The Work First/Employment program is intended to provide operating assistance for transitional Work First and general public employment transportation needs. RGP funds provide operating assistance for transportation services to individuals who are not human service agency clients.
The FY 2008-2009 Rural Operating Assistance Program allocation to Catawba County totals $263,971 (an increase of approximately 7.21% over last year’s allocations). $124,953 would go to the EDTAP program, $22,994 to the Work First/Employment Program and $111,024 would fund the RGP Program. EDTAP and Work First funding will be provided with 100% State funds and requires no local match. The RGP Program is funded at 90% of the fully allocated cost of each general public trip. The remaining 10% RGP match is funded through existing Catawba County local matching funds allocated to the Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority and fares.
A. The Board will consider appropriating funds received from Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) in the amount of $45,513 for one full-time deputy position for security at CVCC’s East Campus. CVCC has had a long relationship with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office to provide campus security. As the college has grown, it now has a need for an additional deputy to be assigned to the East Campus. Two deputies are presently contracted to patrol the West Campus. If the Board approves this request, CVCC will amend its contract with the college to include a third deputy to patrol the East Campus. The Sheriff’s Office would hire the full-time deputy to be assigned to CVCC, on a tentative schedule of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday thru Friday. CVCC would reimburse the Sheriff’s Office for salary and benefits associated with this full-time deputy, in the amount of $45,513. Uniforms and equipment would be covered in the existing Sheriff’s Office budget.
The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this request.
B. The Board will consider adopting a resolution approving Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire/Rescue’s obtaining tax exempt financing of up to $1.3 million for the purchase of two fire trucks and the construction of a fire station on Burris Road.
This action would not obligate any funding by Catawba County. On May 19, 2008, the Denver Fire Department notified Catawba County that it would end its contract to provide fire service to portions of southeastern Catawba County on June 30, 2008. Prior to the May 19 letter, several meetings were held to discuss a phased approach to move some of the area of Catawba County that was then in the Denver Fire Department district to the Sherrills Ford fire district. With the opening of a new base on Slanting Bridge Road earlier this year, Sherrills Ford Fire and Rescue provides 1 to 3 minutes faster response times and better fire insurance ratings to the eastern section of the district then served by the Denver Fire Department. The Denver Fire Department’s response was to insist on an 8.92 cent fire tax rate. Catawba County officials could not justify doubling the fire tax rate to citizens in that area, nor justify those citizens paying a disproportionate share of the Denver fire budget, so Catawba County again asked the Denver Fire Department to serve the two remaining Catawba County sections of their district at the fire tax rate of 3.89 cents that was then in effect. The Denver Fire Department’s response was the May 19, 2008 letter, in which the department notified Catawba County that it would end its contract to provide fire service to portions of southeastern Catawba County on June 30, 2008.
On July 1, 2008, Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire/Rescue assumed the district that was previously served by Denver Fire and Rescue. To maintain the department’s current insurance rating, it was necessary for Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire/Rescue to add a fire substation and equipment in the area of Burris Road. The station and two fire trucks will cost approximately $1,300,000. In order for Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire/Rescue to qualify for tax exempt financing, the Board of Commissioners must adopt a resolution approving the financing, as required by the United States Internal Revenue Code. Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire/Rescue held an advertised public hearing regarding this proposed financing, as required by the Internal Revenue Code, on June 30, 2008. By using tax exempt financing, Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire/Rescue will receive a financing rate not to exceed 4.67 percent for 15 years. The rate it would receive without tax exempt status would be at least 6.5 percent.
C. The Board will consider two tax refund requests totaling $2,445.24. Records have been checked and these refunds verified; therefore, the Tax Collector is asking for approval of the refund requests. According to North Carolina General Statute 105-381, a taxpayer who has paid taxes may request a refund (in writing) for an amount that was paid through error.
UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
1. The Board will consider a request by Garbage Disposal Service (GDS) for a 4.3% increase to the service portion of its fees, effective July 1, 2008. The increase results from a new State mandated $2 per ton tax on all municipal solid waste dumped in landfills and from increased operating costs, primarily rising fuel costs. The increase equates to 90 cents per household, per month for residential customers who recycle at least once per month, and 95 cents per household per month for residential non-recyclers.
In accordance with the County’s Franchise Agreement, the Board must approve GDS’s fees and increases for collection services. GDS is requesting a 4.3% increase based on increases in the Consumer Price Index. GDS has experienced substantial increases in fuel and other operating costs. Since May 2007, the company’s fuel expenses have increased by 83%, motor oil costs have increased by 5.5%, and hydraulic oil costs have risen by 7.9%. The requested increase would affect all GDS customers, including those who use curbside garbage and recycling pick up, commercial and industrial customers, and those using the County’s Convenience Centers. The Board of Commissioner’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends approval of GDS’s requested rate increase.
2. The Board will consider approving a partnership and building lease agreement with Appalachian State University (ASU) for the primary purpose of operating a biodiesel research facility that will assist Catawba County in producing biodiesel fuel from operations at the County’s EcoComplex and locally grown crops, assist emerging biodiesel producers in Western North Carolina in assessing the quality of their fuels, and provide biodiesel fuel to the County’s Blackburn Landfill operational fleet. The Board will also consider approving the construction of a building to be used for biodiesel research and Freon recovery from white goods, which would be located at the Blackburn Landfill’s buffer area fronting Rocky Ford Road. The facility will be constructed from funds set aside for the long-term maintenance of the Blackburn Landfill. A Preliminary Engineering Report estimates the building construction costs at $900,000 and an $800,000 cost for a mechanical fuel storage and conveyance system.
The Board will also consider awarding contracts in the amount of $298,964 to Camp Dresser & McKee for architectural services to design the biodiesel research and Freon recovery facility. Funding for facility design is included in the County’s Fiscal Year 2008-09 Budget. The Board would be asked to appropriate the actual costs to construct the facility when it awards a contract for construction. Finally, the Board will consider authorizing the County Manager to sign a lease agreement with Appalachian State University to lease the applicable portion of the biodiesel research facility, and consider authorizing the County’s Utilities and Engineering Director to contract with local farmers to grow biodiesel feedstock crops on County-owned EcoComplex and/or Blackburn Landfill property. These crops would provide biodiesel fuel to the County for operating its equipment and fleet. Appalachian State staff and graduate students would be utilized in the biodiesel manufacturing and testing processes and perform research and certification on derived fuels. Appalachian State University has received $1,400,000 in combined funding for this project from the Golden LEAF Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the UNC General Administration, and the NC Biotechnology Center. No local tax dollars will be used for the design, construction, or operation of the biodiesel research and Freon recovery facility. The facility will be constructed with funds from the County’s Solid Waste Enterprise Fund Post Closure Reserve Funds, which the County is required by the State to reserve to ensure that a landfill owner/operator has the funds necessary to properly close a landfill, provide 30 years of post-closure maintenance, and fund any corrective action costs for a permitted landfill.
Appalachian State University approached Catawba County several years ago concerning an educational and research facility as a component of the EcoComplex and Resource Recovery Facility. The partnership between ASU and the County will be designed to move science from the laboratory to the real world, and promote Catawba County as a center for “green” energy, agricultural, and environmental innovation and enterprise. County staff has finalized a contract with ASU for locating a Biodiesel Research and White Goods Freon Recovery Facility within the EcoComplex. The University’s research will include the testing of biodiesel that is being produced by several companies in the region, as well as the growing of feedstock crops on and around the County’s Blackburn Landfill, predominantly in buffer areas. Crops will be used to develop bio-fuel for operating the Blackburn Landfill, which will reduce County operational costs over time. Appalachian State and North Carolina State University will test crops, and adjust or introduce new crops when applicable, to optimize the County’s fuel production, improve biodiesel crop production in Catawba County’s climate, and learn and share with producers across Western North Carolina information about which crops produce the best oils for the production of biodiesel. These crops would be cultivated by local farmers under separate property lease agreements. This proposed partnership represents only an initial component of a broader, remote research and educational “campus concept”, through which ASU would engage in a wide array of research opportunities.
Excess biodiesel not consumed during research and analysis will be available to the County for use in on-site equipment at the Blackburn Landfill and other components of the EcoComplex and Resource Recovery Facility. The unconsumed or available biodiesel is estimated to be 45,000 gallons annually, which in the current market equates to $218,250. The County’s July 1, 2008 estimate of the cost per gallon to produce biodiesel from crops cultivated on County property is $2.00 per gallon. The County’s most recent bulk purchase of on-road diesel was at $4.589 per gallon. Thus, by using the biodiesel grown and developed on site, the County will realize approximately $2.50 per gallon of avoided cost.
The terms of the lease agreement with Appalachian State University shall be for a period of ten years, in five year renewable intervals, during which Appalachian State will pay the County rent in the amount of $1,000 per month for the initial five year term. Terms of the lease would be renegotiated for the second five year term. The County will provide customary utilities, parking area, property maintenance, solid waste management services and adequate space in the facility. Catawba County’s existing Energy Facility staff will be trained to operate the biodiesel manufacturing equipment, and would do so in the event ASU terminates its research at the County EcoComplex.
The proposed biodiesel research and Freon recovery facility will be approximately 5,000 square feet in size. It will use modular steel frame construction with Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) characteristics that contribute to the building’s overall environmental performance. The facility will house biodiesel production process equipment, Freon removal and reuse equipment, laboratory space and staff offices. Feedstock and fuel tanks will be externally housed in an enclosure attached to the main building. Parking, loading, and storage space will be included into the overall layout.
Under North Carolina General Statute 143-64.31, staff issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for design and construction administration on the project, which was sent to numerous architectural firms and advertised on the County’s Internet site. Eight statements of qualification were received on March 17, 2008 from the following: Abee Architect, PA; Camp Dresser & McKee; CBSA Architects; Hayes, Seay, Mattern & Mattern; Pease Associates; PBC+L Architecture; Perkins Eastman; and Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce.
A selection committee, consisting of Utilities and Engineering Director, Barry Edwards; Public Services Administrator, Jack Chandler; Purchasing Agent, Debbie Anderson; Chief Building Services Official, Armin Wallner; and Business Manager, Cindy Meadows, reviewed the RFQs and selected Camp Dresser & McKee (CDM). CDM would provide complete design and construction services including design development of building and biodiesel processing mechanical systems, construction documents, bidding services, construction administration and project management. CDM would also provide complete design and coordination of the pre-fabricated metal building, the raw material storage area, biodiesel processing area, laboratory area, and office space and emissions testing area, and coordinate all sub-consultants associated with design and construction of the facility. The total contract for architectural design and LEED certification of building construction, engineering design and construction management services with Camp Dresser & McKee is $298,964.
The Freon recovery component of the facility will capture Freon from white goods received at the Blackburn Landfill for use in university research. The Federal Clean Air Act prohibits knowingly venting ozone-depleting refrigerants (such as Freon) while servicing or disposing of air conditioning/refrigeration equipment. So Freon must be removed from refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners, including automobile air conditioners, that are entering the waste stream with their refrigerant charge intact. Recovered Freon has a high value in today's market and is recyclable. Blackburn Landfill staff and applicable ASU staff are, or will be, trained and certified to manage the extraction, employment, and sale of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerant components from used white goods, making it possible for Catawba County to generate additional revenues from the sale of the CFC-free white goods for recycling. $50,000 in net new proceeds will be garnered annually from the State White Goods Tax Program to offset the costs of Freon removal and reuse. Additional annual funding may come from two other available grants.
Staff has estimated annual revenues from the Biodiesel Research and White Goods Freon Recovery facility of approximately $302,000, providing the County with an annual 5% return on its investment over a ten year period, or the return of $3,402,322 on the $1,998,964 investment over 7.4 years.
The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends approval of the partnership and building lease agreement with Appalachian State University for the primary purpose of operating a biodiesel research facility; the construction of a building to be used for biodiesel research and Freon recovery from white goods; the awarding of contracts in the amount of $298,964 to Camp Dresser & McKee for architectural services to design the biodiesel research and Freon recovery facility; the authorizing of the County Manager to sign a lease agreement with Appalachian State University to lease the applicable portion of the biodiesel research facility, and the authorizing of the County’s Utilities and Engineering Director to contract with local farmers to grow biodiesel feedstock crops on County-owned EcoComplex and/or Blackburn Landfill property.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464