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AUGUST 1, 2011

AGENDA
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, August 1, 2011, 9:30 a.m.
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse
30 North College Avenue, Newton, NC

1. Call to order.

2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

3. Invocation.

4. Approval of the minutes from the Regular Meeting of July 11, 2011.

5. Recognition of Special Guests.

6. Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda.

7. Presentations:


a. Presentation by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension – Catawba Center on the book “Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Service”. Presented by Glennie Daniels, Extension Agent.


b. Receipt of Grant Funds by the Catawba County Historical Association for Security at Bunker Hill Covered Bridge. Presented by Catawba County Historical Association Director Melinda Herzog and President of the Historical Association Board of Trustees Shuford Abernethy.


c. Presentation of the Government Finance Officers Association’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting and Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award to the Catawba County Finance Department. Presented to Finance Director Rodney Miller, Assistant Finance Director Jeanne Jarrett and Internal Auditor Kenneth Maynor.

8. Appointments.

9. Consent Agenda:


a. Allocation of Lottery Funds for Per Capita.


b. Rural Operating Assistance Program (ROAP).


c. Tax Refund Request.

10. Departmental Reports:


a. Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC).

Community Based Youth Gang Violence Prevention – Phase II Program. Presented by Debbie Bradley, JCPC Staff.


b. Economic Development Corporation:


Lee Industries, Inc. Expansion. Presented by Nathan Huret, Catawba County Economic Development Corporation.


11. Other Items of Business.

12. Attorneys’ Report.

13. Manager’s Report.

14. Adjournment.

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: Individuals needing assistance should contact the County Clerk at 465-8990 within a reasonable time prior to the meeting. 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.

CALENDAR:
The next Board of Commissioners Meeting on Monday, August 15, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room of the Government Center.


PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2011, 9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, NC

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider allocating funds from a State grant to the Exodus Homes’ Young Men of Integrity program for a gang intervention and prevention program and the finalizing of an economic incentive agreement with Lee Industries, Inc., which will expand its manufacturing capabilities by renovating the former Conover Chair facility in Conover, adding 75 new employees beginning in late 2011 and investing $2.5 million in the county, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, August 1, 2011, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse, at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.

The Board will consider a proposed revision to an agreement with the Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority to allow the Authority to become the direct recipient of a State grant used to help fund transportation programs for the elderly and disabled, for employment assistance and for the rural general public. It will consider dedicating $50,000 in available lottery funds to pay the annual debt payment for Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, which are zero interest bonds used to renovate school buildings, purchase equipment for schools, develop criteria or train teachers. This would free existing funds now dedicated to debt for other expenses. The Board will also hear about a grant received by the Catawba County Historical Association for increased security and protection against vandalism at the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge; and a recommended tax refund. It will hear a presentation from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension - Catawba Center on a book, Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Service, which celebrates the 100 year history of Family and Consumer Sciences, and will present two honors given to the County’s Finance Department by the Government Finance Officers Association.

PRESENTATION
A. The Board will receive a presentation from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension-Catawba Center on the book, Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Service which celebrates the 100 year history of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Extension and Community Association volunteers working in each North Carolina county and the Qualla Boundary of the Cherokee Nation.

B. The Board will hear a report from the Catawba County Historical Association on a grant that will be used to enhance security at the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge. Designated as a National Civil Engineering Landmark in 2001, the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge is the only remaining example in wood of the Improved Lattice Truss design patented in 1839 by Herman Haupt and one of only two original remaining covered bridges in North Carolina. Museum Director Melinda Herzog reported to the Board in 2009 that vandalism and graffiti were a recurring problem at the site. The Association begin working with the Sheriff’s Office at that time to enhance security and search for available grants.

C. The Board will present a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting and a Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) to the County’s Finance Department. The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and has been awarded to the County for 29 consecutive years. The award is presented to governmental units that the GFOA says "prepare and publish an easily readable, understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year." The Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award is presented to local governments that “produce high quality popular annual financial reports specifically designed to be readily accessible and easily understandable to the general public and other interested parties without a background in public finance.” This is the County’s third straight year as recipient of this award.

CONSENT AGENDA
A. The Board will consider a request from Hickory Public Schools to dedicate $50,000 in available lottery funds to pay the annual debt payment for Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs), which will free existing funds now dedicated to debt for per capita expenses. These funds are 0% interest bonds that must be used to renovate school buildings, purchase equipment, develop criteria or train teachers. Hickory Public Schools received 2007 QZABs in the amount of $700,000 through the State of North Carolina. These funds assisted with renovations to the former American Legion building needed for athletics programs and physical education classes. The term of the loan is fourteen years (starting in Fiscal Year 2008/09, ending in Fiscal Year 2021/22), which the system agreed to repay by dedicating $50,000 annually from its per capita allocation. Each school system receives per capita funds from the County each year to fund small capital projects costing less than $12,500.

Hickory Public Schools has $150,000 in available lottery funds and has requested to use $50,000 in the current year to make the annual QZAB payment, instead of using per capita funds. Lottery funds may be used for new or existing debt obligations. Using the lottery funds to make the payment this year will free per capita funds for projects such as sidewalk improvements, interior improvements, minor mechanical improvements and other capital projects. The dedication of these lottery funds to pay annual QZAB debt is recommended by the Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee.

B. The Board will consider revising the Rural Operating Assistance Program (ROAP) agreement between Catawba County and the Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority to allow the Authority to become the direct recipient of ROAP funds. Burke, Caldwell and Alexander Counties will be requested to similarly revise their ROAP agreements. ROAP is a State funded public transportation grant program administered by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. It includes the following programs: (1) Elderly and Disabled Transportation Assistance Program (EDTAP); (2) Employment Transportation Assistance Program (EMPL); (3) Rural General Public (RGP) Program, and (4) Supplemental ROAP. Catawba County’s revision includes the condition that, upon receipt of the allocation, the Authority would retain RGP and EDTAP funds while dispersing EMPL funding directly to Catawba County Social Services.

ROAP funds are allocated to each county annually by a formula. As a general rule, each county is eligible to receive an allocation from each program but counties that do not provide transportation services to the general public are not provided a RGP allocation. ROAP funds are to be used for the operating cost of trips or other transportation services, but not for administrative or capital costs. Historically, Boards of County Commissioners were the only eligible applicants for ROAP funds and it was their responsibility to sub-allocate and distribute funds to the community transit system and/or local agencies and organizations as allowed by the program guidelines. During FY 2012 there will be a reduction of about 20% in ROAP funds allocated to the region totaling $756,877, as compared to $948,440 allocated in FY 2011. The reductions for FY 2012 by program are as follows: EDTAP -16.5%, RGP -26.7% and EMPL -7%. The FY 2012 application stipulates that county governments and regional public transportation authorities created under Article 25 or Article 26 of Chapter 160A of North Carolina General Statutes are the only eligible applicants for ROAP funds. Other changes in the guidelines include: a requirement to survey 10 agencies or organizations about transportation needs and services that have been added to the public involvement process; a public hearing notice published in Spanish or another language other than English is required if census data shows that the county has a Limited English Proficiency population of 1,000 people or greater; and this will be the last year that other services, including fuel assistance, vehicle repairs and car insurance are eligible expenses under the Employment Transportation Funds. Only trip-based services are eligible expenses in FY 2013.

If the Authority were to become the direct recipient of these funds, it would then be the accountable entity for the grant which includes grant compliance, management and reporting. Currently, each county (as the grant recipient) is the accountable entity for these areas. In addition, the grants would be combined into one application so only one public hearing would be required. Public notices would need to be placed in each of the counties. Catawba County Social Services wishes to retain the EMPL (employment) funding to support Work First efforts to keep people off welfare and employed. WPRTA would be responsible for dispersing these funds to Social Services upon receipt. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the proposed revisions to the Rural Operating Assistance Program (ROAP) agreement between Catawba County and the Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority.

C. The Board will consider a tax refund request in the amount of $664.24. Records have been checked and the refund verified; therefore, the Tax Collector is asking for approval of the refund request. Under North Carolina General Statute 105-381, a taxpayer who has paid taxes may request a refund in writing for an amount paid through error.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

A. JUVENILE CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL
The Board will consider a request by the Catawba Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) to use grant funds to contract with Exodus Homes-Young Men of Integrity to provide gang intervention and prevention programming. This is the second phase of the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Community Based Youth Gang Violence Prevention program. This is a follow-up to the Gang Assessment grant received by the 25th Judicial District, which was completed and presented in October 2010. A grant of $50,000 has been awarded to the program. While the application was for $75,000, the program has advised it can provide services with the funds awarded. During the fall of 2009, the State of North Carolina requested that the counties in the 25th Judicial District (Burke, Caldwell and Catawba) partner for a youth gang assessment. Originally the three counties were advised they were eligible for up to $250,000 for assessment and prevention/intervention education. They applied for, and received, $54,500 to conduct the assessment with the understanding that, once the assessment was complete, they could apply for additional funding for prevention and intervention education. The contract for the assessment was awarded to the Western Piedmont Council of Governments. The assessment was completed last summer, with a draft submitted and reviewed, and results presented to the JCPC on September 28, 2010. Based on the results, a request for proposals was distributed. Funding priorities advertised were (1) mentoring; (2) positive peer relations and self esteem; (3) programs after school, on weekends and during vacation to provide opportunities for youth to learn skills, sports, arts, volunteers, and other activities; (4) parenting programs, and (5) paid services (mental health, juvenile justice, schools) to address issues including substance abuse and/or sexual abuse for youth involved in gang or gang-related activities. A grant application from the Young Men of Integrity was completed. Another grant proposal was received by the JCPC, but was incomplete and did not address all areas of need.

The Young Men of Integrity program’s proposal addresses the areas noted above. Much discussion has been held, by the JCPC and with the Young Men of Integrity, concerning the use of former gang members as mentors. No person who has had a sexual offender conviction can work with this program. Former gang members who work with the youth cannot work one-on-one; they can only work with them in group settings. Strict guidelines from the State also have been discussed and agreed upon. The program is directed to work with other programs for sexual abuse and substance abuse services. It will use some of the $50,000 and JCPC-funded programs to meet this need. The Young Men of Integrity has decided to expand the program by Labor Day 20011 to include females. It already has a request to help a young lady. The funding period for this grant is from August 2011 through June 30, 2012. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends utilizing grant funds to contract with Exodus Homes to provide the outlined services.

B. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
The Board will consider a resolution authorizing economic development incentives for Lee Industries, Inc. and The Lucky 7 Development Group. Lee Industries currently operates three production facilities in Newton employing 479 people and has been manufacturing upholstered furniture since 1969. The company has grown tremendously over those 40 plus years offering one-of-a-kind pieces to customers who want to pick their own frame, size, finish, fabric, skirt, nail head, or even earth-friendly materials. Every piece used by Lee Industries is handcrafted in the United States, with 99.999% of its materials from the United States (much of this from suppliers within a 25 mile radius).

As the company’s current facilities cannot handle growth expected over the next 5-10 years, the company considered other buildings in the region and decided to focus on the reuse of a former furniture facility in downtown Conover. The vacant Conover Chair facility has fallen into disrepair in recent years and would require the company to buy the property and pay accompanying delinquent taxes and then drastically renovate the facility and redevelop the entire property, investing an estimated $2.5 million in property improvements. With the additional manufacturing capacity, Lee would add 75 new employees in Conover over the next three years, with an average wage of $41,045 or nearly $7,000 more than Catawba County’s average wage. All of the company’s Newton facilities would remain in operation.

At a June 29, 2011, joint meeting of the Conover City Council and the Board of Commissioners, the Board unanimously approved an incentive in the form of a cash grant with a single payment of $50,000 payable upon presentation of a copy of the recorded deed of the former Conover Chair property by the company; payment of all taxes and approval of a contract; and the satisfaction of conditions of that contract. The ad valorem tax receipts on $2.5 million equal $39,750 over three years. When considering delinquent taxes in addition to this investment, the project will bring an immediate positive payback to the County of approximately $105,750 over three years, similar to paybacks used to determine grant involvement in other County projects.

The Board’s approval contained stipulations that the company require a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent for any new hires 25 years of age or below, and that all new jobs, existing jobs and investment are maintained through December 31, 2017. As with all incentives provided by the County, these will be based on a contractual performance agreement which requires Lee Industries and The Lucky 7 Development Group to meet minimum thresholds of investment and job creation. The incentive will be paid to Lee Industries. The agreement requires repayment, plus interest, should the investment and/or job creation amounts not be met or sustained.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464