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OCTOBER 7, 2013
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, October 7, 2013, 9:30 a.m.
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse
30 North College Ave, Newton
1. Call to Order
2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
4. Approval of the minutes from the Board’s Regular Meeting of September 16, 2013
5. Recognition of Special Guests
6. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda
9. Departmental Reports
10. Other Items of Business
11. Attorneys’ Report
12. Manager’s Report
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 828-465-8468 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 21 at 7:00 p.m. in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse, Newton.
PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
A. The Board will receive a presentation regarding the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s new Strategic Transportation Investment (STI) legislation and a new Strategic Mobility Formula. This presentation will provide the Board with an overview of how the Formula will address how traditional Equity-eligible funds, Urban Loop funds, Mobility Funds, Powell Bill and Secondary Roads paving funds will be allocated, based on a prioritization criteria using a 0-100 point scale.
B. In accordance with North Carolina General Statutes, the Board will be asked to approve the Fiscal Report and Settlement of taxes for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012 and ending June 30, 2013. The report is expected to reflect that $80,516,247 (96.95%) in real estate and personal property tax has been collected as of June 30, 2013, with $2,537,459 outstanding in real estate and personal property tax.
OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS
Goal #1) Support a coordinated effort to create jobs and property tax base by investing in infrastructure, the development of the County’s quality of life, and educational opportunities. Participate with the private sector in determining a long-term vision.
Specific strategies include:
In keeping with the County’s broad and long-term approach to funding water and sewer infrastructure needs countywide, Board action resulted in: an agreement between the County and the City of Hickory for the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion which will increase treatment capacity to service areas including the Town of Catawba and the commercial and industrial areas along Highway 150, as well as providing needed service provisions in the southeast Catawba County service area in anticipation of growth; an interlocal agreement with the City of Newton for a water project to service Highway 16 South, Balls Creeks Road and Buffalo Shoals Road; and the utilization of grant funds to extend the Old Shelby Road Water Line to provide water to 131 persons and 63 households, the majority of which have severe water needs.
The Board also entered into a new exclusive solid waste management franchise agreement with Republic Services of NC, LLC to ensure a substantial increase in the number of items collected for recycling and the initiation of “single stream” collection of recyclable commodities so recycled materials would no longer have to be separated at curbside. This agreement increased Republic Services’ investment in Catawba County by $13 million and protected over 150 local jobs. The County also entered into agreements with the Cities of Hickory, Newton and Conover and the Town of Long View for the continued acceptance, management, and disposal of municipal solid waste collected within the municipalities’ jurisdictions.
With an eye on all aspects of services which impact the County’s quality of life, the Board addressed the need to increase the capacity of the Animal Shelter, which receives animals from both the incorporated and unincorporated areas of the County, by awarding a bid for construction of a new shelter.
Further Board actions taken to improve the quality of life of county citizens included: appropriation of existing fund balance in the amount of $30,000 to assist Bandys Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department in construction costs for replacing one station and building one new fire station; action which enabled Propst Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department to acquire a more favorable interest rate when financing the purchase of a new pumper-tanker and self-contained breathing apparatus; donation of a surplus County vehicle to the Western North Carolina Epilepsy Association to assist with use at their HOPE (Help Our People Eat) Garden; amending the Unified Development Ordinance regarding setbacks for principal structures on corner lots, thus allowing homeowners more flexibility in placement of structures on these lots; revision of the Unified Development Ordinance to address setbacks from gravesite’s crypts, vault or grave markers in cemeteries in unincorporated areas of the County.
When floods in May 2013 threatened the quality of life of the northern and eastern parts of the County, the Board’s action to waive solid waste, building permit, zoning and flood plain development permit fees associated with the affected property eased some of the burden caused by this natural disaster.
During the Board’s retreat in December 2012, the Board received an interim report from the Southern Growth Policy Board on the ongoing joint effort of the areas’ public and private sectors to identify opportunities for economic competitiveness. This effort has resulted in a public/private project named Innovate Catawba that has identified six work areas: Inspiring Communities, Reinventing Spaces, Workforce Connectivity, Entrepreneurship, Building for Jobs, and Leading and Communicating. The Board also adopted the Farm & Food Sustainability Plan to sustain agricultural land in the County, recruit younger farmers and provide tools for farm transitioning, focus on agricultural economic development and agri-tourism, and ensure local food sustainability by developing and marketing a “Farm-to-Fork” initiative.
Further actions taken toward the specific strategies of this goal were:
Aggressive recruitment of most favored industries;
Included in the Board’s 2013 Legislative Agenda was support to abolish the existing guidelines specific to State incentives, grants, and assistance programming. The existing system ranks North Carolina’s 100 counties based on economic well-being and assigns each a tier designation. Catawba County, with higher than average the State unemployment rate, is not well supported as the result of the tiering structure’s eligibility factors. Continued in the Legislative Agenda was emphasis on completion of the widening of Hwy. 16 from Newton to Tower Road in SE Catawba County to better facilitate transportation to and from Charlotte.
Support of and participation in a multi-jurisdictional business park;
Insuring that County regulations support orderly growth and business development;
Supporting an environment for entrepreneurship, emphasizing the development of small business;
The adopted budget continued to support the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Center and the Chamber of Commerce’s Edison Project. For the 10th year of the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, the Board again waived applicable permit fees for the event. The impact of this event on the local economy is estimated at $15 million, with more than 65,000 spectators, volunteers and vendors as well as over 15 hours of live and replay coverage on the Golf Channel.
Goal #2 ) Prepare a Fiscal Year 2012-13 budget which provides needed County services within available revenues, including no property tax increase, ensuring that the County addresses its short term needs while planning for long term growth and maintaining the Board of Commissioners’ policy of two months of operating expenses.
The Fiscal Year 2012/13 budget was adopted with no countywide property tax increase and maintains the tax rate at $0.53 per $100 of valuation, which is the 8th lowest tax rate of the 27 urban counties (populations over 100,000) and the 28th lowest of all 100 counties in North Carolina. This is the sixth year without a property tax increase. The budget reflected a 1.2 percent increase in County operations and maintained the Board of Commissioners’ policy of two month operating expenses. The County continues to examine the way it does business and meet service needs within available revenue.
With a sound and fiscally responsible budget in place, the Board continued to take action which benefited the financial security of the County, such as refinancing of a portion of the County’s installment payment obligations to take advantage of lower interest rates and realizing more than $850,000 over the next thirteen years, as well as approving installment purchase financing in the amount of $31 million at a low 1.96% interest rate over 15 years for the construction of two new elementary schools, renovations to existing school facilities, improvements to Catawba Valley Community College and a new animal shelter. When the construction of the Highway 150 sewer lines was excluded by the bank from the above financing, separate installment purchase financing was identified for this remaining $8 million construction project at a rate of 1.81% for twelve years.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464
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