2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
4. Approval of Minutes from the Regular meeting of August 21, 2006.
5. Recognition of Special Guests.
6. Public Comment for items not on the agenda.
10. Departmental Reports.
11. Other items of business.
12. Attorneys’ Report.
13. Manager’s Report.
PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2006, 9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will be formally presented with the recommended Schedule of Values for the 2007 property revaluation which will become effective on January 1, 2007 and consider setting a set of State Legislative goals, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 5, 2006, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
The Board will also consider appropriating funds from a State grant to provide emergency repairs to eight homes owned by low and moderate income owners and rehabilitate seven homes owned by low and moderate income owners; the proposed abandonment of the last six-hundredths (0.06) of a mile of Long Island Road (State Road 1904) where it dead ends into Lake Norman, as requested by a property owner and with a cul-de-sac to be installed there to improve safety; whether to declare a Sheriff's Office vehicle as surplus and consider donating that vehicle to the Hickory Rescue Squad; the naming of new Map Review Officers for Catawba County and the Town of Catawba; and an outcome change in the budget for the Department of Social Services' Food Assistance Unit. The Board will issue proclamations declaring September 16-30 as Litter Sweep Weeks and September as National Preparedness Month in Catawba County.
A. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring September 16-30, 2006 as Litter Sweep Weeks in Catawba County. During these weeks, citizens who bring trash collected from road sides, parks, lake sides and other common areas in special orange bags, or recyclable materials collected from the same areas in blue bags, to the Blackburn Landfill or one of the County's five convenience centers may dispose of the bags free of charge. Citizens may call the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Maintenance Office at 828-466-5519 to arrange for pickup of bags. Bags are available at the County Utilities & Engineering Department at the Government Center in Newton; the Cooperative Extension Office off Highway 321 Business in Newton; the NC Department of Transportation's Maintenance Office on Prison Camp Road, off Highway 321 north of Maiden; and at Garbage Disposal Service's office at 4062 Section House Road in Hickory.
B. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring September as National Preparedness Month in Catawba County, to recognize that the observance is a good opportunity for every Catawba County citizen to learn more about ways to prepare for all types of emergencies, from potential terrorist attacks to natural disasters; that emergency preparedness is the responsibility of every Catawba County citizen; and that all Catawba County citizens can take a few simple steps, such as preparing a Disaster Supply Kit, making a plan and being informed, in order to make citizen preparedness a priority in every community. The proclamation urges adults and children to participate in citizen preparedness activities, and to review the Department of Homeland Security’s preparedness website at www.ready.gov and the North Carolina Citizen Corps website at www.readync.org or contact the Catawba County Emergency Services Department at 828-465-8230.
A. The Board will consider approving a resolution recommending to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) the abandonment of maintenance of the last 0.06 mile of Long Island Road (State Road 1904) where it dead-ends into Lake Norman. A request for this abandonment came to NCDOT from the owner of the property that abuts this portion of Long Island Road. A cul-de-sac will be constructed for a turnaround which will provide for a safer means than the current dead-end road. Under North Carolina General Statute 136-63, the Board of Commissioners may on its own motion, or on petition of a group of citizens, request that the Board of Transportation change or abandon any road in the secondary system when the best interest of the people of the county will be served. Staff has reviewed this request and recommends the Board of Commissioners adopt a resolution requesting the closing of the last 0.06 mile of Long Island Road where it dead-ends into Lake Norman, and forward the resolution to the North Carolina Board of Transportation.
B. The Board will consider amending a budget outcome for the current fiscal year for the Food Assistance Unit of the Department of Social Services. Social Services is a performance based agency, operating on goals established by the Board of Social Services and outcomes developed by staff, supervisors and administrators, and approved by the Boards of Social Services and County Commissioners. An outcome approved by the Board of Commissioners for the 2006-07 budget included the following in the Food Assistance area:
"To increase the food purchasing power of Catawba County’s families by identifying and reaching 88% of the county’s potentially eligible citizens (15,146 of the 17,126 potentially eligible persons) as compared to the county’s current participation rate of 81.5% (with the state rate at 64.73%)."
Originally, the State of North Carolina’s calculation of this information was based on the number of persons with income less than 125% of poverty. The State has now recalculated the number of potentially eligible persons using income of less than 130% of poverty. This is a more accurate figure, as federal law established the income limits for Food Stamps at 130% of poverty. Due to this change, Social Services staff and the Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommend that the Board of Commissioners approve a change to this 2006-07 budget outcome to read as follows:
"To increase the food purchasing power of Catawba County’s families by identifying and reaching 83% of the county’s potentially eligible citizens (15,462 of the 18,630 potentially eligible persons) as compared to the county’s current participation rate of 76.19% (with the state rate at 63.34%)."
C. The Board will consider the donation of a 1997 Ford Expedition to the Hickory Rescue Squad, Inc. The vehicle has approximately 130,000 miles and has been replaced by a 2006 Expedition. The Hickory Rescue Squad would be able to use this vehicle for their on-call staff. North Carolina General Statute 160A-279 authorizes a county to convey personal property to a nonprofit organization without monetary consideration, as long as the property will be used for a public purpose. The process begins with the governing board adopting a resolution authorizing the conveyance of the property and a ten-day public notice. The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board adopt a resolution donating this personal property to the Hickory Rescue Squad, Inc.
D. The Board will consider a request from the Town of Catawba to appoint Andrea Lytle and Jonathan Kanipe as Map Review Officers by adoption of a resolution. The resolution also appoints Cal Overby and Chris Timberlake as Review Officers for Catawba County, removes Anthony Starr as a Review Officer for the Town of Catawba since he is no longer employed by the town and removes Rich Hoffman as a Review Officer for Catawba County since he is no longer employed by the County. On July 17, 1997, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified Senate Bill 875, Maps and Plats Law. This law requires all counties to appoint Review Officers to review each plat or map before it is recorded, and certify that it meets the statutory requirements for mapping. The law states individuals have to be appointed by name, not by job title, so any time a change occurs in staffing, a new Review Officer has to be appointed and approved by resolution of the Board of Commissioners and subsequently recorded in the Register of Deed’s Office.
The Board will receive a formal presentation of the proposed Schedule of Values, Standards, and Rules, which will be used for Catawba County’s 2007 Revaluation, from Tax Assessor Randy Moose. The Board must schedule a public hearing if it acts to consider the schedule, which would be followed by a set of publication notices prescribed by State law. Catawba County’s next county wide revaluation will become effective on January 1, 2007.
North Carolina General Statue 105-386 mandates that all real property be reappraised at least every eight years. Many of North Carolina's 100 counties have moved to cycles of four or five years rather than eight. The Board passed a resolution on August 18, 2003 to keep Catawba County on a four-year revaluation cycle begun in 1999. The Board cited the following reasons for advancing the revaluation cycle:
It generally will help reduce the "sticker shock" for taxpayers from dramatic increases in values. Values are not apt to rise as rapidly in a four year cycle versus an eight year cycle.
The level of assessment between personal property and real property remains more equitable with more frequent revaluations. Personal property is required by law to be appraised at 100% value every year; whereas, real property is only at 100% on the year of revaluation. The more years that come between revaluations, the more distorted the values on record become, thereby creating an inequity of the tax burden among taxpayers.
Public service companies receive an automatic reduction in the fourth and seventh years following the last revaluation if the level of assessment drops below 90% as determined by the N.C. Department of Revenue. That level of assessment becomes the percent of value on which the public service companies' tax bills are computed. Revaluation cycles of four years or less eliminate this revenue loss. Catawba County's revenue loss for years 1995 through 1998 was $2,285,253.89.
A more accurate future tax base and tax rates can be forecast with a reduced period between revaluations.
NC General Statute 105-317 sets forth the essential elements of a revaluation. Catawba County has approximately 84,000 separate parcels of land which must be individually appraised at 100% of market value by the effective date of January 1, 2007. The State has established “market value” as the standard by which all real property is to be assessed. Market value is defined by the State as “the price estimated in terms of money at which the property would change hands between a willing and financially able buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of all the uses to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used”.
County staff has worked for many months researching and analyzing local property sales, building data, cost data and other information, culminating in the formulation of an appraisal manual, or as the General Statute describes it, a “uniform schedule of values, standards, and rules” to be used in appraising real property in the county. The schedule was formulated from three primary sources: 1) the local real estate market, 2) nationally developed data on the cost of building construction, adjusted to reflect local building costs, and 3) income and expense data from income producing properties in the county.
The Board of Commissioners held a work session to receive information on the 2007 revaluation process on August 21, 2006. On August 28, 2006 a Value Review Committee met to scrutinize the proposed Schedule of Values, Standards, and Rules. After an in-depth discussion with staff regarding formulation of the schedule, the committee offered its opinion that the schedule is legal, accurate and, when utilized properly, generates a fair estimate of market value for real property in Catawba County. Value Review Committee members attending included Mr. Charles Preston, Mr. Clement Geitner and Ms. Lynda DeHart.
The North Carolina Machinery Act requires that the Board of Commissioners hold a public hearing, and then place a newspaper notice stating it has done so, before it considers formal adoption of the Schedule of Values. Property owners will then have 30 days to challenge the Schedule of Values by appeal to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission. Under General Statute 105-317(c), the Schedule of Values must be formally presented to the Board not less than 21 days before the meeting at which it will be considered. The public hearing must be at least seven days before the Board’s adoption of the schedule. Staff recommends the public hearing be scheduled for the Board's meeting on Monday, September 18, 2006 beginning at 7:00 p.m., in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
Under this schedule, the Board would consider formal adoption of the Schedule of Values at its meeting beginning at 9:30 a.m. on October 2, 2006, at the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse. Afterwards a newspaper notice must be published stating that the schedule has been adopted and that property owners have 30 days from the date of the first publication to challenge the schedule by appeal to the State. If the Board formally adopts the Schedule of Value on October 2, property owners would have until Thursday, November 2, 2006 to challenge the schedule.
The Board will consider adopting several documents related to a 2006 Community Development Block Grant Scattered Site Housing Grant. Catawba County is allocated $400,000 every three years on a rotating basis for a Scattered Site Housing Grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce. The County first received an allocation in 2003 and a second allocation of funds is now available. In order that the County receive this next round of funding, a grant was written by the Western Piedmont Council Of Governments (WPCOG) which called for the grant to be used to rehabilitate seven homes; clear or relocate one home; and provide for emergency repairs to eight homes located across the county. Catawba County received approval for this funding on July 31, 2006. The County also requested $40,000 for emergency repairs to a minimum of eight homes of low and moderate income owners. This grant is scheduled to last 30 months from the time funding is awarded to completion. To receive this money the Board must adopt project policies, procedures and plans, a project budget ordinance and an agreement with the WPCOG for administration of the project. Planning staff recommends the Board adopt the CDBG Scattered Site Housing Project and the resolution as outlined above.
OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS
A. The Board will hear a report on the progress of its 2006 State Legislative Agenda. Assistant County Manager Joellen Daley will report on the outcome of the Board's goals for this year's session of the North Carolina General Assembly. Highlights included 1) a goal that the State provide full relief for counties from Medicaid costs. North Carolina is the only state that still requires counties to share in Medicaid funding and Catawba County's budget for fiscal year 2006-2007 includes $7.5 million to meet Medicaid costs. The General Assembly did provide one-time funding to cap Medicaid costs for counties in this fiscal year, which is expected to bring a savings of $935,000 to Catawba County that would be used to meet one-time expenditures. 2) The Board has had a goal for years to work toward the State allowing counties more local revenue options, besides property taxes. Although one proposed NC House bill would have given Catawba County the right to levy additional sales taxes, it was not passed and no new local revenue options were provided by the General Assembly this year. 3) The Board's efforts to seek additional day care funding for counties resulted in an additional appropriation that is expected to bring $60,000-$70,000 to Catawba County. More revenue is needed, however, as the County has a waiting list of persons seeking day care. Some of these items, and others on the Board's 2006 State Legislative Agenda, are being recommended for the Board's 2007 Legislative Goals, as noted below:
B. The Board will consider a proposed set of State Legislative Goals for 2007 to be forwarded to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC). Staff is proposing goals in two areas, funding and policy. Some of the proposed goals are as follows:
Funding: 1) The Board would continue a goal to seek permanent relief from the State for the County’s portion of Medicaid costs. 2) The Board would continue to pursue additional local revenue options for all counties to provide flexibility in funding options to address county needs, such as school infrastructure and/or jail expansions. 3) Since Catawba County has a waiting list for day care and funds are running low, the Board will consider pursuing additional day care funding next year. 4) The County unsuccessfully sought additional funds for Child Welfare Services to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by the loss of Federal funding. The Board will consider pursuing additional funding in 2007, especially in light of the fact that the programs related to Child Welfare Services and Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) are required by the State.
Policy: 1) 911 service providers are currently required to purchase services from Bell South and Intrado to link telephone numbers to addresses to make 911 systems effective. For communities that utilize citizens alert notification systems, telephone companies have required the purchase of essentially the same data at the cost of several thousand dollars per month. The Board will consider seeking legislation that would prohibit telephone companies from charging for this same data service, as communities are already paying once for the information to make 911 systems effective. 2) A bill was introduced into the General Assembly earlier this year that would authorize the transport of patients in non-emergency situations by private parties. Although the bill did not pass, as written it created three issues for Catawba County. It was inconsistent with the existing NC Office of Emergency Medical Service rules regarding an EMS system. Each provider operating within a county is part of that system. If a private provider comes into Catawba County and operates, the County would have no ability to regulate their standards, thus reducing the quality of service. The bill also violated the County's Franchise Ordinance, developed to assure the County had the ability to regulate the quality of care provided to citizens. The County Government would not have the ability to regulate what private providers charge for and how they charge. Loss of revenue would also result if this bill was passed. The approximately $700,000 gained by the County for non-emergency transport helps offset losses the County sees on the emergency services it provides. The Board will ask that the NCACC monitor this bill in the event it resurfaces in the 2007 General Assembly and, if it does, would recommended the Association oppose the bill. 3) The Board supported an expansion of the uses of E911 funds from call-in to call-out. But this bill was expanded to remove a requirement that telephone companies pay E911 fees, which was not supported by Catawba County. The Board will recommend the NCACC continue to watch this bill because, although it agrees the definition should be expanded, it does not agree that fees should be eliminated. 5) The County would continue to seek the restoration of an exemption on State sales taxes for local government purchases. A 2.5 cent sales tax refund for schools was restored in the 2006 session but the exemption on the 4.5 cent portion of the State sales tax was not restored. 6) House Bill 648 and Senate Bill 508 would exempt from taxation the increase in value attributable to improvements in property prior to sale. The bill would result in an estimated loss of $490,000 annually to Catawba County. The bill was referred to committee in March, 2006. The Board will consider asking the NCACC to watch this bill in the event it resurfaces in the 2007 General Assembly and, if it does, recommended that the Association oppose the bill.
C. The Board will consider a resolution expressing concern about a request from the cities of Concord and Kannapolis to transfer 38 million gallons of water per day from the Catawba River Basin to the Rocky River Basin. The resolution notes that the net effect of previously approved transfer requests, and another pending transfer request from Charlotte/Mecklenburg would result in a total increased usage of 235.5 million gallons a day from the Catawba River Basin. It notes that the Catawba River and its tributaries are not an unlimited supply of water, as evidenced by the effect of a drought experienced in the area in the late 1990s and early part of this decade. It further notes that the County is currently working with Duke Energy and numerous other stakeholders in the Catawba River Basin, from both North and South Carolina, to establish the terms of the next hydroelectric power license to be issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that will further define future water needs for the population within the basin. The relicensing of the Catawba River Basin hydroelectric power facilities is nearing completion and will be providing useful data about water quality and quantity that should be considered before any interbasin transfer requests are approved. The resolution ends by expressing the Board's concern about the long-term availability of water within the Catawba River Basin and officially requests that the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission deny the request from Concord and Kannapolis.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464