PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2006, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider a proposed Work First Plan for fiscal years 2007 through 2009 and an amendment to the County Code regarding ambulance franchises, to specify that the Catawba County EMS has been declared a "Model EMS System" by the State of North Carolina and require any party interested in providing ambulance service in Catawba County to meet the same high standards that are in place for a Model EMS System, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 16, 2006, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room on the second floor of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
The Board will also hear a presentation on economic development opportunities within the data storage and information technologies sector and how Catawba County could target the sector for future projects; hear details from a representative of the North Carolina Department of Transportation on the road improvement projects approved by the North Carolina Board of Transportation for Catawba County for fiscal year 2006-2007; and consider an updated Memorandum of Understanding between Catawba County and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension; a request from Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) to appropriate funds equal to an amount the college will release back from completed projects, to be used to meet operating costs for the new Classroom/Library/Science Building at CVCC and to appropriate $36,000 for asbestos removal at the college's former library building in Newton; a request from the Catawba County Board of Education to transfer funds from two closed projects in order to award a bid for a chiller unit at Arndt Middle School; a revision to the current Mental Health budget that does not add any additional County funds or personnel; the appropriation of funds from a grant from Duke Energy to fund the purchase of audio-visual equipment needed at the County's Emergency Operations Center; and whether to declare 1.01 acres of County property off Lewis Road as surplus for a proposed sale.
A. The Board will receive a report from Ms. Jackie McSwain, District Engineer of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, on the road paving priorities for Catawba County approved by the North Carolina Board of Transportation for fiscal year 2006-2007. 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.
B. The Board will hear a presentation from Scott Millar, President of the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation, on growth and opportunities within the data storage and information technologies sector and how Catawba County could target the sector for future projects. Such projects would create jobs for graduates returning to Catawba County and local graduates of certificate programs, and recruit new graduates to this market. The Charlotte Regional Partnership and Duke Energy have begun a joint “Data Center Initiative” to market suitable regional sites and buildings nationally, as a result of a number of data projects underway. Projects are generally mega-investment, with a high quantity and quality of jobs. An existing Catawba Multi-Jurisdictional/Mega-sites Initiative offers the opportunity to create a “Data Park” site capable of hosting several users with the same infrastructure; a concept not currently being done elsewhere in the region or state. Three projects have already been submitted for data centers/IT assembly. This job sector was given “Most Favored” status in the most recent FORESIGHT Report, since the sector pays 209% of Catawba County's average wage, and predictions call for 6.4% annual growth in the sector. Also, two of the least expensive markets for data center operation in the State are within an hour of Hickory, in Charlotte and Winston-Salem.
Mr. Millar is expected to discuss several strategies the EDC could use, including a 120 day analysis of true labor availability for the data center sector with required wages and sector needs, to develop a sales and planning tool usable for this and all recruiting through EDC; the possible use of a consultant to assess likely sites for the three projects already submitted and any potential buildings for feasibility for a Data Center/Park; complete an analysis of planning, land control, and infrastructure to determine development costs; model local & state incentives for sample projects; work with the Hickory Metro Higher Education Center, CVCC, and UNC Center to define and package a creative multi-partner approach for employee training; and prepare presentation materials and a PR strategy regarding a Data Park site.
A. The Board will consider a revision to the current budget for Catawba County Mental Health Services that results in a net increase of $378,757, bringing the total budget to $18,925,596. The revision adds no new positions and requests no additional County funding. The changes include 1) an additional $91,060 in State allocations (including $33,175 in additional Local Managing Entity (LME) Systems Management Funding to offset adjustments in costs for utilization review and claims processing; $5385 in additional State Criminal Justice Partnership Program grant funds, with most of those funds to be used for the purchase of substance abuse treatment services; and a one time State grant of $52,500 to be used to purchase a new billing and medical records software system); 2) a decrease of $214,728 in Comprehensive Treatment and Services Program funding for children based on actual expenses, plus a proportional "add back" amount required by the State; 3) a realignment of the overall State allocation to the County that resulted in a net increase of $92,216 and 4) an increase of $410,209 to the Mental Health budget from the Mental Health fund balance, which includes $50,000 to assist with the start-up of a local program that will provide Multisystemic Therapy to youth between the ages of 7 and 17; $110,209 for a payback to the State for unearned Non-Unit Cost Reimbursement funds; $150,000 to assist three to ten young people, ages 18-21, who have previously received intensive child mental health services and have not effectively transitioned well into adult mental health services; and $100,000 to assist Catawba Valley Behavioral Healthcare (CVBH) with the purchase of the Connections building, content and property. CVBH will provide the remaining $25,000 to secure the purchase.
B. The Board will consider a supplemental appropriation in the amount of $9300 from a grant from Duke Energy to address the County's Emergency Services responsibilities regarding the McGuire Nuclear Station. Catawba County Emergency Services receives funding each year from Duke Energy for use during drills, incidents and yearly training regarding the McGuire Nuclear Station, as Catawba County is one of the Fixed Nuclear Facility counties for the McGuire Nuclear Station. Duke Energy has approved additional funding to allow the County to purchase audio-visual equipment for its Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC is critical to the County's ability to properly mitigate an emergency event at McGuire. The grant will allow the County to upgrade its current audio-visual equipment, which will aid in more efficient communications within the EOC and with alternate EOC locations during an extended incident. The total actual allocation from Duke Energy this year is $29,300. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve this supplemental appropriation of the $9,300 grant from Duke Energy.
C. The Board will consider a request from Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) to transfer $45,483 from three completed capital projects back to the schools capital outlay fund balance; that an equal amount be appropriated from General Fund fund balance to be used toward current expense operating costs for the college's new Classroom/Science/Library Building; and that $36,000 be appropriated from the schools capital outlay fund balance to cover the cost of removing asbestos from CVCC’s Newton Center (the former college library). CVCC has identified three completed capital projects and requests that these projects, totaling $45,483, be closed. This would result in these funds falling to the schools’ capital outlay fund balance. In return, the college is requesting an appropriation of the same amount ($45,483) from the General Fund to be used toward operating costs for the new Classroom/Science/Library Building. The current year's capital outlay budget for CVCC includes $200,000 for renovations to the college's former library building in Newton, which will be used for a cosmetology school. Asbestos was recently discovered in the building. It will cost $36,000 to remove the asbestos. The amount budgeted for the project will only cover the cost of the renovations; so CVCC is requesting that $36,000 be appropriated from the schools capital outlay fund balance to cover the costs for the asbestos removal. The Finance & Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve these three transfer and appropriation requests.
D. The Board will consider a request from the Catawba County Board of Education to transfer funds from two capital projects, in order to award a bid for a new chiller needed at Arndt Middle School. The current capital outlay budget for the Catawba County School System includes $131,000 to replace a 200 ton chiller at Arndt Middle School, which is original to the building. The school system planned to replace the single unit with two 125 ton units in order to provide a backup if one chiller malfunctions. Since the Arndt Middle School building does not have operable windows, a backup system would allow the school to maintain an acceptable temperature during warmer months if one of the chillers malfunctioned. Two chillers would also provide adequate capacity for planned future expansion at the school. Once bids were received, the design plan for two 125 ton units exceeded the budget by $92,233 because the costs for demolition and installation were higher than anticipated. The Catawba County Board of Education is therefore requesting the transfer of $15,735 remaining in a project completed at Fred T. Foard High School and $78,498 from funds set aside for future projects, for a total transfer of $92,233, so that bids can be awarded for two 125 ton chillers. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the transfer of $92,233 from Schools’ Capital Outlay projects.
E. The Board will consider declaring County owned property as surplus and accepting an offer for the purchase of the property. As a result of a judgment issued against a former property owner, Catawba County obtained 1.01 acres located off State Road 1140 (Lewis Road) in October 2000 at a cost of $345.72. Catawba County does not have any use for this property at the present time or the foreseeable future. Mr. Richard Lee Giles, who resides at 272 Buffalo Shoals Road in Lincolnton, has made an offer in the amount of $4,200 to purchase this property and submitted a bid deposit of $210, as required by County policy. The tax value of the property is $4100. Mr. Giles purchased the adjacent parcel to the east (0.35 acres) through the upset bid process in 2005. Notice of the bid for the tract off Lewis Road will be advertised in two local newspapers, and upset bids may be made to the County within ten days of publication. The County will notify adjacent property owners of the offer from Mr. Giles and inform them of the upset bid process. Once an upset bid has been received, that bid will be re-advertised until there are no further upset bids. The successful bidder must present cash or a certified check for the entire balance due within ninety days of the last day for receipt of upset bids. The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve a resolution declaring the 1.01 acre tract off Lewis Road as surplus and accepting the offer of Mr. Richard L. Giles in the amount of $4,200, subject to the upset bid process.
REPORTS AND PRESENTATIONS
A. COOPERATIVE EXTENSION
The Board will consider a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Catawba County Government and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. The MOU defines the cooperative relationship created between local, state, and federal governments committed to bringing research-based knowledge from NC A&T State University and NC State University to the citizens of Catawba County. Due to changing situations among the cooperating partners, it was deemed necessary to review this document to ensure it provided an accurate reflection of the current relationship between the Board of Commissioners and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. A team representing the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and North Carolina Cooperative Extension met regularly for the past two years to review and update the MOU. Catawba County Manager, Tom Lundy, was a member of this review team. A significant change in the proposed new MOU would move all Cooperative Extension employees to one uniform payroll system. Payrolls for Catawba County’s Extension employees are now administered through both the state and county systems based on each partner’s percentage share. A uniform payroll system would reduce benefit and policy disparities between Cooperative Extension employees across the state. Counties will retain the option to control their portion of future salary increases.
If the new MOU is approved, all Catawba County Cooperative Extension employees hired after January 1, 2007 would be paid through NC State University via a “send-in” process. In this arrangement, Catawba County would be invoiced by North Carolina Cooperative Extension for the county’s share of salary and benefits. Three of Catawba County's Area Agricultural Agents are already paid via “send-in”, and their experience with this process has been positive. Another significant change in the MOU would call for the policies of the State of North Carolina to be used in granting and administering employee leave. This change would resolve transfer of leave issues encountered by Extension employees who transfer to Extension jobs in other counties and correct problems that some employees encounter at retirement due to differences between county and state leave administration. Current staff members will have a choice between either moving to the "send-in" process of pay through NC State or continuing to receive paychecks from both the State and the County. Although the agreement is between the Board of Commissioners and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, the Board has the option to delegate oversight and administration of the MOU to the County Manager, which has been done in the past. The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the Memorandum of Understanding between the County and North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
B. SOCIAL SERVICES
The Board will consider approving a proposed Work First Plan for fiscal years 2007 through 2009. The North Carolina General Assembly created the Work First welfare reform program that allows for counties to compete for "Electing County" status, which gives a limited number of counties the opportunity to have greater control over local welfare policies, as well as greater control over available funding. On July 17, 2006, the Board voted for Catawba County to again pursue “Electing County” status and appointed a committee to assist in the development of the county’s Work First Plan. Under the proposed plan, Catawba County will follow criteria established and implemented by the State of North Carolina with regard to: age limits for children; payment levels; benefit calculation; countable income; resource requirement (limit and countable items); and time limits and extensions.
Catawba County’s proposed plan differs from the State in several ways, including: 1) when siblings (half brothers/half sisters) have been placed with one of the sibling’s relatives by Social Services, and the relative meets the State’s definition of "kinship" for any one of the children, the adult may apply for cash assistance for the entire sibling group; 2) a child receiving Social Security or Adoption Assistance is not considered eligible, since his/her financial needs are already being met and they are not included in the assistance unit. If there is no child in the assistance unit, the parent is not eligible for Work First assistance; 3) Work First applicants must cooperate with Child Support and must register with the First Stop program if not already employed; 4) parents or caretakers who, without good cause, do not comply and cooperate with Child Support Enforcement, their Mutual Responsibility Agreement and substance abuse treatment, or have intentional program violations, will make the entire family ineligible for a Work First Family payment for one month or until compliance, whichever is later; 5) applicants must be assessed for economic literacy within twelve calendar days of applying for Work First; 6) all Work First applicants and recipients referred to Vocational Rehabilitation must complete the application and comply with all Vocational Rehabilitation recommendations; 7) failure to attend a Success for Families Team meeting, if required, without good cause will result in one month of ineligibility; 8) caretakers in child-only cases must be screened for Substance Abuse/Mental Health issues and comply if treatment is required; 9) all cases will be reviewed every 6 months; 10) Work First citizens who quit their jobs, refuse to accept a bona fide job offer or request a reduction in hours will be ineligible for assistance; and 11) to encourage successful participation, when a participant completes monthly-required hours and reports it in a timely manner, he/she will be eligible for a reward (gift card).
Electing County status continues to be preferred for Catawba County, because it allows greater flexibility in administrating the program and offers possibilities to be financially advantageous. The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the proposed Work First Plan for fiscal year 2007 through 2009 for submission to the North Carolina Department of Human Resources.
The Board will consider adopting amendments to the Catawba County Code of Ordinances, Chapter 14, Emergency Management and Services, Article V, Ambulance Franchises, Sections 14-136 through 14-151. In 1995, the County adopted an Ambulance Franchise Ordinance, based on state statutes adopted in 1979, which provided that the County be the authorizing agency for enforcing and regulating issues related to ambulance operations within the County. On November 30, 2003, Catawba County was approved by the State Office of Emergency Management as a "Model EMS System", one of only ten such systems in the State at the present time. In order to ensure the County’s citizens receive the best ambulance services possible, the County’s Ambulance Franchise Ordinance needs to be amended to reflect the changes in state law that created the Model EMS System, as well as the latest rules and regulations. These amendments will also make it necessary for any party interested in providing ambulance services in the county to meet the same high standards which are currently in place for a model EMS system. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board adopt the proposed amendments to the County Code, Chapter 14.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464