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OCTOBER 6 , 2014
AGENDA
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, October 6, 2014, 9:15 a.m.
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse
30 North College Avenue, Newton, NC

 

PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE IN TIME OF THIS BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS MEETING. THIS MEETING HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED TO 9:15 A.M. SO THAT BOARD MEMBERS CAN ATTEND THE CATAWBA VALLEY FURNITURE ACADEMY OPEN HOUSE.

1. Call to Order.

2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

3. Invocation.

4. Approval of the minutes from the Board’s Regular Meeting of September 8, 2014.

5. Recognition of Special Guests.

6. Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda.

7. Presentations:


Resolution in Support of the County’s Effort to Promote and Support the Hickory-Conover Tourism Development Authority. Presented by Bruce Eckard, Hickory Conover Tourism Development Authority Chairman and Bebe Leitch, CEO, Metro Convention & Visitor Bureau.

8. Consent Agenda:


a. State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) Grant.
b. Retirement of Drug Interdiction K-9 Dog “Jak”.
c. Designation of Primary and Secondary Agents for FEMA Mitigation Grant.
d. Proposed Amendments to the Personnel Code – Conditional Offer of Employment and Reduction in Force.
e. Secondary Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) funds.
f. Biodiesel Production Facility/Operations Privatization Lease Revisions.

9. Appointments.

10. Public Hearing:

Schedule of Values, Standards and Rules for Catawba County 2015 Revaluation. Presented by Tax Administrator Mark Logan.

11. Other Items of Business.


North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) 2015-16 Long Session Legislative Goals Submission.

12. Attorneys’ Report.

13. Manager’s Report.

14. Adjournment.

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: Individuals needing assistance should contact the County Clerk at 828-465-8990 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 will take place on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room in the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.

PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2014, 9:15 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2015 Schedule of Values, a set of standards and rules created following the study of the County’s current real estate market which, after final approval by the Board, will be used as an appraisal manual to set property values effective on January 1, 2015, when the Board meets at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, October 6, 2014, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton. The Board will also consider a set of legislative goals to be sent to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners as part of the Association’s statewide legislative goals creation process.

The Board will consider accepting a U.S. Department of Justice Grant to be used to meet medical costs at the County Jail. The Board will consider a request to retire drug interdiction K-9 dog, “Jak” and transfer ownership of Jak to his handler. The Board will consider designating Emergency Services Director Bryan Blanton and Emergency Management Coordinator Karyn Yaussy as primary and secondary agents on FEMA Mitigation Grants, which would be used to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to life and property from a variety of hazards. The Board will consider a budget revision to account for pass-through 911 funds to be used by the cities of Hickory and Newton. The Board will consider amendments to the County’s Personnel Code, which would remove from one section a statement regarding a pre-employment screening process that is inconsistent with the current practice and, in the section regarding Reduction in Force, address the inappropriate use of the term “part-time”. And the Board will consider an amended lease regarding the privatization of the County’s Biodiesel Production and operations.

The Board will also receive a resolution from the Hickory-Conover Tourism Development Authority commending the Board for its efforts to confirm the mission and goal of the Authority to promote travel and tourism in the area.

PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE IN THE USUAL START TIME FOR THIS MEETING FROM 9:30 TO 9:15 A.M. SO BOARD MEMBERS MAY ATTEND THE CATAWBA VALLEY FURNITURE ACADEMY OPEN HOUSE.

PRESENTATION
The Board will receive a resolution from the Hickory-Conover Tourism Development Authority commending the Board for its continued efforts to confirm the mission and goal of the Authority to promote travel and tourism in the area.

CONSENT AGENDA
A. The Board will consider accepting grant funds in the amount of $9,842 from the U.S. Department of Justice, State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). There are no matching funds required for this award that is 100% Federally funded. The SCAAP is a formula based grant program that provides agencies with reimbursement for some of the costs associated with incarcerating undocumented criminal aliens who have committed serious crimes in the U.S. The goal of this program is to enhance public safety in communities throughout the nation. Catawba County was one of only 857 (out of 3,140) eligible local entities across the U.S. that successfully applied for these dollars.

These grant funds are based on individuals held in the Newton Detention Center and those held for Catawba County at the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility during fiscal year 2012/2013. Funds under this program can be used for correctional purposes only. Staff has determined the best application would be for medical services in the jail. This expense is unpredictable during the year as it is dependant on the inmates’ presented medical conditions. The need fluctuates as the population changes. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends acceptance of these grant funds and supports their use for medical services in the jail.

B. The Board will consider adopting a resolution to retire drug interdiction K-9 dog “Jak” and transfer ownership of Jak to his handler, Dennis Smith, a Deputy Sheriff Investigator. Jak has performed his duties faithfully and diligently. He is 9 years old, has arthritis in his knees and spine and is no longer physically able to perform as a drug interdiction K-9 dog. Jak was specifically trained in certain law enforcement procedures and may behave unpredictably and possibly in an aggressive manner as a result of such training; therefore, he presents a risk to the health and safety of the general public if presented for sale to or adoption by citizens unfamiliar with the specialized training Jak received. Such risk to public health and safety is not present when a K-9 dog is transferred to the care and keeping of his or her handler. This would allow Jak to retire to a familiar environment in the care of his handler who is very familiar with his training and would transfer Jak in a manner that does not endanger public health and safety. The resolution, pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 160A-266(d), would allow the Sheriff’s Office to retire and transfer ownership of Jak to Deputy Smith, upon the deputy’s accepting custody of the dog and assuming all liability and responsibility for the care of the animal for the remainder of his life. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends adoption of this resolution and the transfer of ownership of “Jak” to Deputy Sheriff Dennis Smith.

C. The Board will consider adopting a resolution designating Primary and Secondary Agents for a Mitigation Grant from the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, Hazard Mitigation Section. Catawba County is eligible to obtain mitigation grant funding because of the July 27, 2013, flooding and resulting Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance known as DR-4153. The State of North Carolina has been awarded federal Department of Homeland Security Mitigation Grant monies to fund projects that reduce overall disaster risks for people and property and reliance on disaster recovery funds. Eligible activities include: acquiring property (i.e. structures and land) for open space conversion; relocating public or private structures; elevating existing public or private structures to avoid flooding; retrofitting structures (e.g., storm shutters, hurricane clips, bracing systems) to meet or exceed applicable building codes; and conducting hydrologic and hydraulic studies/analyses, engineering studies and drainage studies related to a mitigation project. Typically, these types of mitigation projects have a 25% non-Federal cost share. In this case the State of North Carolina will be paying the entire cost-share.

Hazard mitigation actions are taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to life and property from a variety of hazards. Mitigation can occur before, during and after a disaster. It has been shown that mitigation is most effective when based on a comprehensive, long-term plan developed before a disaster occurs. Catawba County’s mitigation planning efforts began as early as 2001 and the County has had an approved Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan since 2004. This plan was updated in 2009 and a 2014 update is currently under review by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In order to be eligible to participate in the Department of Homeland Security Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant program, Catawba County must maintain a current Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan. In addition, mitigation projects must be consistent with one or more specific mitigation goals in the current plan. For example, in the 2009 plan update, Catawba County identified the goal to “Pursue acquisition and elevation of flood prone structures and properties to eliminate or reduce the impact from flood hazards.” The proposed mitigation project involves the voluntary acquisition or elevation of five residential properties in Catawba County.

Designation of County Primary and Secondary agents assures prompt and efficient filing of applications and documents for federal or state assistance related to hazard mitigation projects. This is the first of two requests Emergency Services will be making before the mitigation projects can begin. Once FEMA approves the mitigation grant application, the Board will receive a second report requesting a supplemental appropriation for hazard mitigation grant projects to be funded by a Department of Homeland Security Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the designation of Emergency Services Director Bryan Blanton and Emergency Management Coordinator Karyn Yaussy as Primary and Secondary Agent, respectively.

D. The Board will consider two proposed amendments to the Personnel Code. The first amendment, in Section 153, Conditional Offer of Employment, removes a statement regarding the pre-employment screening process that is inconsistent with the current practice. The second amendment, in Section 167, Reduction in Force, addresses the inappropriate use of the term “part-time.”

Conditional Offer of Employment - This section of the Personnel Code outlines the procedures the Human Resources Department follows regarding background checks of applicants for County employment. The current wording in this section states that “additional tests” of applicants, beyond what is required for all positions in the County, must be completed before a final offer of employment is extended. In actual practice, once a conditional offer of employment is made to an applicant, staff conducts a variety of background checks, depending on the position being filled. All applicants must pass a criminal background check and pre-employment drug screening test; other applicants may be required to pass a credit check, driving record check or a pre-employment physical. Once these background checks are satisfactorily completed, a final offer of employment is extended to the applicant. For positions where verification of an educational degree or fingerprinting is required, an applicant is not required to provide these in advance of the final offer. These verifications generally take several weeks to process. Waiting on these verifications before the final offer is extended would result in an unnecessary delay in filling job vacancies. Further, because the interview and qualification process is robust and includes structured team interviews and multiple reference checks, obtaining these verifications after the final offer has been made has not resulted in negative outcomes.

Reduction in Force – The County’s Reduction in Force procedure provides a greater level of protection for employees who have obtained property rights in their positions (by completing their probationary period of employment) than for those employees who do not have property rights in their positions. Employees who do not have property rights in their positions include hourly, temporary, or probationary employees; these employees may be terminated at any time with no due process requirements. When the Personnel Code was revised in 2012, the definition section was updated to clarify the difference between an hourly employee with no property rights and a part-time employee (with property rights). However, the Reduction in Force section addressing the various categories of employees was not updated. The use of the term “part-time” in this section should be “hourly,” indicating that, in the event a Reduction in Force was necessary, any hourly, temporary or probationary employee would be terminated before a permanent employee (with property rights).

The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of these amendments to the Personnel Code.

E. The Board will consider a budget revision to account for pass-through 911 funds for the cities of Hickory and Newton. The North Carolina 911 Board approved a funding method in December 2010 for distributing funds to primary Public Safety Answering Points, or PSAPs, which includes the County’s 911 Communication Center. The distribution amount is based on data collected for the most recent five years of approved eligible expenditures of each primary PSAP. Catawba County received $513,604 in fiscal year 2013-14 to support its 911 center.

On January 21, 2014, the 911 Board adopted the Secondary PSAP Funding Committee’s recommendations to include an additional allocation from the NC 911 Board to secondary PSAPs, effective July 1, 2014. There are two eligible secondary PSAPs in Catawba County, in Hickory and Newton. Police chiefs from both cities approached County staff earlier this year asking for the County’s support in receiving this additional funding. At its September 2014 meeting, the NC 911 Board approved pass-through funding for Hickory and Newton to be used for authorized 911 expenditures in the amount of $58,711 and $11,809, respectively. These funds would be received by the County in addition to the funds for the primary PSAP, which will not be affected by the secondary PSAP funds. One of the requirements is that the new funds must flow through the County (primary PSAP) on a monthly basis and be followed with an annual report summarizing authorized expenditures. This report will be submitted in conjunction with the County’s annual 911 report. The 911 Board also requires the execution of an interlocal agreement between the primary and secondary PSAP detailing the terms and conditions associated with 911 funds used by the secondary PSAP. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the requested budget revision and execution of the required interlocal agreements.

F. The Board will consider approval of a revised lease with Blue Ridge Biofuels of Asheville, North Carolina. In May, 2014 the Board approved a lease for the Biodiesel Production Facility with Blue Ridge Biofuels. In May, Blue Ridge Biofuels’ Director indicated the lease was fine, so it was submitted to the Board for approval. However, neither Blue Ridge’s board nor its attorney had approved the lease. The lease approved by Blue Ridge Biofuels’ board had a few minor changes from the earlier version, as follows: (1) Section 2.2 Termination, the earlier version provided a two year written notice, or if the County gave a one year notice it was required to pay the company’s relocation expenses. The current version requires Blue Ridge to provide twelve months notice and the County to provide sixty months notice. Given the investment the company is making in Catawba County, this is essential to Blue Ridge and staff believes it is appropriate; (2) Section 3.3 Service Charge, the earlier version was silent while the current version provides the County with the ability to add a service charge for any late rent payments; (3) Section 5.3 Hazardous Materials, provides much better detail and protection for County; and (4), the earlier version referred to “Lessor” and “Lessee” while the new version uses the terms “Landlord” and “Tenant”. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this revised lease.

PUBLIC HEARING
The Board will hold a public hearing to receive citizen comments on the proposed Schedule of Values, Standards, and Rules for Catawba County’s 2015 Revaluation as prescribed by North Carolina General Statute 105-317. Pursuant to a resolution adopted by the Board on October 3, 2011, Catawba County’s next countywide revaluation will become effective on January 1, 2015. Catawba County has approximately 87,000 separate parcels of land which are required by State law to be appraised at 100% of market value as of the effective revaluation date. To that end, Catawba County staff has worked for many months analyzing data derived from real estate sales, building cost data, and income and expense statements from income producing properties in the County. This has culminated in the formulation of the proposed Schedule of Values, Standards, and Rules to be utilized to generate market value appraisals for all real property in Catawba County.

The Schedule of Values is a set of standards and rules that are used as an appraisal manual by the County appraisal staff to assure properties are valued in an accurate and consistent manner. The schedule contains information on methods used to determine land and building values based on criteria such as location, age, type of construction, zoning, income potential, cost, etc.

Also included in the proposed Schedule of Values is a special schedule for appraising eligible agricultural, horticultural, and forest land at its “present use” value. This schedule is a statewide schedule formulated by the North Carolina Department of Revenue. Properties whose owners qualify for “present use” assessment will receive two values: a market value mandated by law and a “present use” value.

Adoption of the proposed Schedule of Values is an important step in the revaluation process. Because of its importance, the Machinery Act of North Carolina requires the Board to only adopt it after holding a public hearing and then publicizing that it has done so. After the adoption, property owners will have 30 days to challenge the Schedule of Values by appeal to the North Carolina State Property Tax Commission.

In accordance with North Carolina General Statute 105-317(c), the proposed Schedule of Values was formally presented to the Board at its September 8, 2014, meeting. The Board notified the public on September 9, 2014, through newspapers of general circulation, that it had received the proposed Schedule of Values and that it is open for inspection at the Assessor’s office. The notice also informed the public that a public hearing would be held on October 6, 2014, at 9:30 a.m., in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse.

Staff recommends a vote for formal adoption occur at the October 20, 2014, Board of Commissioners meeting at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton. Afterwards, a newspaper notice must be published stating that the Schedule of Values has been adopted and that property owners have 30 days from the date of the first publication to challenge the Schedule of Values by appeal to the North Carolina State Property Tax Commission on grounds that the Schedule of Values does not adhere to the appropriate statutory valuation standard (that it will produce values that are too high, too low, or inconsistent). The North Carolina State Property Tax Commission has the power to order the Board of Commissioners to revise the Schedule of Values if it does not adhere to the statutory valuation standard. The North Carolina State Property Tax Commission’s decision may be appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Assuming an October 20, 2014, adoption by the Board of Commissioners, property owners will have until Wednesday, November 19, 2014, to challenge the Schedule of Values.

OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS
The Board will consider approval of the following proposed 2015-16 Long Session Legislative Goals for consideration by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC): 1) Support the expansion of sales tax options and flexibility for North Carolina counties; 2) Oppose the State shifting or cutting money from federal and state block grants (TANF, SSBG, & CCDBG) for mandated services; 3) Support State aid to public libraries by eliminating special provisions that distribute funding outside of the established equitable formula developed by the State Library Commission; 4) Support for broadband expansion; 5) Support the ban of Rhesus Macaque monkeys; 6) Support amending North Carolina General Statute 132-1(b) to address the public records law as it relates to non-North Carolina businesses/citizens; and 7) Support legislation to stimulate economic development activities including incentive programs, workforce development, and job creation programs.

In addition to these above goals, the following is proposed as a guiding principle for NCACC’s intergovernmental relations committee, working with the Executive Branch regarding economic development: Work with the Executive Branch to strengthen the partnership between the State and Counties to ensure there are the correct tools and internal processes in place to provide seamless delivery of economic development programs, including job recruitment and workforce development training opportunities.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464