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October 3 , 2005


Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, October 3, 2005,  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 Special Joint Meeting with Hickory, Long View and Brookford Councils of September 19, 2005 and the Regular Meeting of September 19, 2005.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentations:
a.    Fire Prevention Week Proclamation.  Presented to David Pruitt, Fire Marshal.

b. Growth Estimation Model.  Presented by H. DeWitt Blackwell, Assistant Executive Director, Western Piedmont Council of Governments and Taylor Dellinger, Data Analyst, Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

8.    Appointments.

9.    Departmental Reports.
a.  Social Services:
2004-2005 DHR Social Worker/School Nursing Report.  Presented by Bobby Boyd, Social Services Director.
b.   GIS:
Amendment to Orthophotography Contract to Update Additional Data Layers,  Presented by Michelle Deese, GIS Coordinator and Jack Chandler, Public Services Coordinator.
c.    Finance:
1.    Sale of Surplus Property.  Presented by Rodney Miller, Finance Director.

2.    Budget Transfer for Hickory City Schools Auto Mechanics Classroom.  Presented by Rodney Miller, Finance Director.

d.    Tax:
1.   Refund Request.  Presented by Jackie Spencer, Tax Collector.

2.  Report and Settlement of 2004 Tax, Fiscal Year July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005.  Presented by Jackie Spencer, Tax Collector.

e.    Personnel:
New Job Classification.  Presented by Debbie Bradley, Personnel Director. 
10.    Attorneys’ Report.

11.    Manager’s Report.

12.    Other items of business.
Proposed Change to Catawba County Code – Section 2-53. Minutes.  Presented by Barbara Morris, County Clerk.
13.    Adjournment.

Individuals needing assistance should contact the County Clerk at 465-8990 within a reasonable time prior to the meeting. A telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD) is located in the Government Center and can be reached by dialing 465﷓8200. 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.

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

The next Board of Commissioners meeting will take place on October 17, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. in the 1294 Courthouse, Newton.
OCTOBER 3, 2005,  9:30 A.M.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will get an update on a Growth Estimation Model, a tool created by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments to predict growth in public schools as a result of new housing development; and consider an amendment to a contract for orthophotography to update additional data in the County's Geographic Information System following flyovers of the county this year, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, October 3, 2005, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.

The Board will also receive a report on the work of social workers and school nurses in the county's public school systems; and consider the transfer of funds already budgeted to the Hickory Public Schools for construction of an auto mechanics classroom at Hickory High School; the sale of a small piece of County-owned property off Lewis Road in the Blackburn area; the creation of a new job classification, Income Maintenance Supervisor III, which will not actually add any new staff to the County budget; one tax refund; and a change to the County Code to specify that minutes of closed sessions of the Board of Commissioners shall be adopted at the next regular meeting of the Board rather than at the next closed session, since many months may sometimes pass between closed sessions.  The Board will also receive the annual County tax report and settlement, for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2005, and issue a proclamation declaring the week of October 9 as Fire Prevention Week in Catawba County.  

A.  The Board will issue a proclamation declaring the week of October 9-15 as Fire Prevention Week in the county, to urge the community to focus on fire safety and make sure homes have proper fire safety equipment. Families are encouraged to plan and practice escape routes that would be needed in case of a fire.

B.  The Board will receive updated information from a Student Growth Estimation Model, developed by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG).  When the Board adopted a Strategic Growth Plan in 1999, a formula was included to estimate the number of public school students that would result from residential development.  The Board later asked that a separate formula be created for each of the seven high school districts to insure that the whole process is as accurate as possible.  The County contracted with the WPCOG to research and establish a model which could then be applied distinctly to each high school district.  The Board last heard a report on the model's estimates on September 2, 2003.  This update will include the latest estimates on future student population, based on data collected since mid 2003.



The Board will receive a report on the County's "DHR Teams".  These teams originally consisted of nurses from the Public Health Department, psychologists from Mental Health Services and social workers from Social Services.  They assisted students with behavioral, health, academic, emotional and relationship concerns, in order to enhance the school experience so children might be better able to learn and benefit from education.  Due to financial considerations, the psychologists were removed from the team several years ago, leaving nurses and social workers still working as teams.

DHR Teams are currently serving Clyde Campbell, Webb Murray, Sweetwater, Lyle Creek, Oxford, Riverbend, and Claremont Elementary Schools and Tuttle Middle School in the Catawba County School system; Oakwood, Southwest, Long View, Viewmont and Jenkins Elementary Schools in the Hickory Public School system, and Thornton Elementary School in the Newton-Conover City School system.

School nurses serve all schools in Catawba County. During 2004-2005, they had nearly 29,000 student contacts including sick visits, individual and group health information, teaching/counseling, screening and school wide events.  Nurses identified and wrote 125 emergency care plans for kindergarteners with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and allergies to bee stings and food.  Social workers were involved with 450 students, completing psychosocial assessments and developing specific goals.  An additional 225 students were referred for medical, dental, and/or mental health services.  The majority of the social worker involvement focused on behavioral problems such as helping students with behavioral management techniques and parenting counseling.  

Some of the teams' achievements during the past year were:  98% of students served by social workers had a 95% attendance rate; 98% had five or fewer office referrals for behavioral problems once a social worker began working with them; 98% were eligible for promotion to the next grade at year’s end after working with a social worker; social workers received a 99% customer satisfaction rating from parents and school staff; 83% of school-aged children screened and identified for vision problems received follow-up care; 100% of students served by nurses received health education through projects, health promotion, parent teaching or classroom presentations; 100% of students referred to school nurses for acute conditions were referred to a primary care provider and 82% of those referred received care; 100% of all children entering kindergarten with identified health problems had an individualized health plan developed by a school nurse so staff could appropriately and safely manage the child’s medical condition at school; 98% of sixth-graders eligible to receive the Hepatitis-B vaccine completed the series of immunizations; 94% of students found to be out of compliance with North Carolina immunization laws completed mandated requirements; all of the county's middle and high schools received, on three occasions, educational information regarding the Totally Teens Health Center and relevant adolescent health information; all Hickory Public School fifth-graders received Body Mass Index screenings; 51% of those students were identified as at risk for obesity according to CDC guidelines and school nurses made referrals for all of those students.

Nurses and social workers communicate frequently to ensure all student needs are addressed and met.  Because of their collaborative efforts, student behavior is improved, academic performance is enhanced, absenteeism is reduced, and there is improved parental involvement in schools.  Results for the coming year should be even better, as five additional nurses will be available through the generosity of Catawba Valley Medical Center.

The Board will consider an amendment to the County's contract with EarthData International for ortho-photography services, to update the County’s land use, impervious surfaces and transportation data layers.  In January of this year, the County contracted with EarthData International, as part of a Joint-Orthophoto Project with several other area counties, to update aerial photography used with the Geographic Information System (GIS), at a reduced cost when compared with the most recent aerial photography in 2002 and with the benefit of a faster completion of the project than first anticipated and color photographs.  

The original contract allowed each county to individually negotiate to have additional data layers created or updated, based on photographic data captured during a fly-over conducted earlier this year.  Staff has determined that updates to the land use, impervious surfaces and transportation layers will prove invaluable in Catawba County’s efforts to comply with Federal and State stormwater regulations and in tracking impervious surface percentages.  The additional data layers will also be used by the County's municipal partners in the GIS system, with the partner municipalities funding 24.1% of the project.  The County will fund the layers initially, and the municipalities will reimburse the County for their portion of the project costs.  No budget revision is required for these services, as funds were included in the County's 2005-06 budget.  Staff recommends the Board authorize the amendment to the orthophotography contract.

1.   The Board will consider a resolution to declare County-owned property located off Lewis Road as surplus and accept an offer of Mr. Richard L. Giles of Lincolnton, NC, to purchase the property for $1950, subject to the upset bid process.  The property has a tax value of $1900.  As a result of a judgment against the former property owner, Catawba County obtained the property in 2000 at a cost of $163.06, which included delinquent taxes of $46.17.  The property consists of 0.35 acres and the County does not have any use for this property at the present time or the foreseeable future. Because of the property's proximity to Blackburn Elementary School, Mr. Ernest Williams of the Catawba County School system was contacted to gauge the system's interest in the property.  Due to the limited acreage, and with no plans for a future school in that area, the county school system had no interest in the property. Mr. Giles has submitted a deposit of $100, as required by County policy.  Notice of the bid will be advertised in the Hickory Daily Record and Newton Observer-News Enterprise, and upset bids may be made to the County within ten days of publication.  If an upset bid is received, that bid will be re-advertised until there are no further upset bids. Staff recommends the Board declare the property as surplus and accept the offer of Mr. Richard L. Giles in the amount of $1950, subject to the upset bid process.

2.  The Board will consider a request from the Hickory Public Schools' Board of Education for a budget transfer in the amount of $81,612, from various completed projects to an Auto Mechanics Classroom project.  The County's fiscal year 2004/05 budget included $329,000 to relocate an auto mechanics lab from Hickory High School to the former American Legion building located adjacent to the Hickory High campus.  In addition, funding in the amount of $267,000 was approved to convert the space formerly occupied by the auto mechanics lab into classrooms.  Bids received for the Auto Mechanics Classroom Project resulted in a shortfall of $56,614.  To award the low bid and fund various fees, permits and contingencies associated with the project, an additional $81,612 is needed.  Staff recommends the Board approve this budget transfer request.

A.  The Board will consider a tax refund request totaling $106.55.  Records have been checked and this refund verified, so the Tax Collector recommends approval.  Under North Carolina General Statute 105-381, a taxpayer who has paid his or her taxes may request a refund in writing for an amount paid through error.

B.  Tax Collector Jackie Spencer will give the annual report on settlement of taxes for fiscal year 2004-2005, as required by North Carolina General Statutes 105﷓352 and 105﷓373.  Ms. Spencer is expected to report an adjusted levy (as of June 30, 2005) of $57,597,987 and a collection percentage, not including vehicle tax collection, of 98.24%, expected to again be one of the highest collection rates in the state.

The Board will consider the establishment of a new job classification, Income Maintenance (IM) Supervisor III, at pay grade 72.  Due to a continued increase in case loads resulting from the decline in the local economy and new program responsibilities being added, a restructuring of the Family Medicaid unit is being requested.  With the planned addition of two new IM Caseworkers in the Family Medicaid unit, 24 employees will directly report to the IM Supervisor.  The Family Medicaid unit has experienced continual problems with retaining employees.  Staff believe this turnover is due to the volume of cases, the responsibility of having to learn and manage both functions of income maintenance (the intake process and case management process) and a lack of time for supervisors and Lead Workers to provide sufficient training for new employees.  By creating the new classification of IM Supervisor III, the two Lead Workers can become IM Supervisors and take on direct supervisory responsibilities for twelve caseworkers. This will also allow the IM Supervisor III to focus more on management of the Family Medicaid unit rather than spending the majority of her time in training, hiring and personnel issues.  Creation of the new job classification will not result in an increase in the total number of positions or in the salary budget of the Family Medicaid unit.  Staff recommends the Board establish the new job classification.

The Board will consider a change to Section 2-53 of the Catawba County Code, which pertains to the approval of closed session minutes.  Section 2-53 currently reads, in part, "Minutes of closed sessions conducted in compliance with North Carolina General Statute 143-318.11 shall be withheld from public inspection so long as public inspection would frustrate the purpose of the closed session.  The minutes of sessions, other than closed sessions, shall be adopted at the next regular meeting.  Minutes of closed sessions shall be adopted at the next closed session."  There may be months between meetings when the Board goes into closed session and the current code requirement of waiting until a closed session to approve the previous closed session minutes leaves these minutes unapproved for long periods of time.  The proposed code change would eliminate delays in the approval of minutes of closed sessions.  If amended, Section 2-53 will read, "The minutes of sessions shall be adopted at the next regular meeting".  Staff recommends the Board approve the proposed change to the County Code.