PREVIEW OF BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS AGENDA
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2010, 9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, NC
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider a three-year lease with the State of North Carolina for the Employment Security Commission (ESC) building on Highway 70, which will result in a one-stop facility for job seekers that will house the Workforce Development staff, JobLink, Goodwill Partners and the Employment Security Commission, allowing Catawba County residents who need assistance after job loss to receive information and assistance in one convenient location; and consider donation of two surplus vehicles to Exodus Homes, which will assist the non-profit in supporting recovering addicts, alcoholics and formerly incarcerated people who are working to return to a productive role in the community, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, November 1, 2010, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
The Board will honor Allan Mackie, recently retired Manager of the Catawba County office of the Employment Security Commission; and consider the establishment of fees for three vaccines given by Catawba County Public Health following the loss of State funds previously available to provide these vaccines to children from birth to age 18 regardless of their insurance status; use of the sole source exception from normal bidding requirements to purchase software needed by Public Health that is sold by only two vendors; appropriation of a State grant for 4-H programming in schools in the Catawba County School System that receive federal Title I funding, and another State grant designed to offset the cost to jails for medical services required for potentially undocumented aliens; a tax refund request; the appropriation of $2000 from the Mountain View Fire Department fund balance for the purchase of 800 MHz portable radios; and a revision to a budget outcome of Social Services for Fiscal Year 2010-2011. The Board will also issue proclamations for Adoption Awareness Month, Home and Hospice Care Month, Hospice and Palliative Care Month, National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Month and Farm-City Week during November, and recognize County employees who volunteered their lunch hours over several months to take part in the County’s Mini Course, through which they learned about all of the County’s departments.
A. The Board will issue a Distinguished Public Service Award to Allan Mackie, retired manager of the North Carolina Employment Security Commission’s Hickory/Newton Office. Mr. Mackie spent 8 of his 36 years with the Commission in the Hickory/Newton Office. The award will commend his leadership in providing sound employment services, labor market information and unemployment insurance support to Catawba County citizens in these difficult economic times.
B. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring November as Adoption Awareness Month, to recognize the County’s efforts to create better public awareness of children seeking permanent homes through adoption. Caring adults can make a positive difference in the lives of young people, siblings, children of different ethnicities and youth who have been harmed by abuse. More than 1609 foster children were adopted in North Carolina in 2009 and 23 of those children were in the Catawba County foster care system.
C. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring November as Hospice and Palliative Care Month to recognize that hospice and palliative care provides patients and families with the highest quality care during life-limiting illness and at the end of life, through pain management and symptom control. This care allows patients to live fully, up until their final moments, surrounded and supported by loved ones, friends and committed caregivers.
D. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring November as Home and Hospice Care Month to recognize that in-home healthcare services provide for the health and social needs of Catawba County citizens. This care enables citizens to access a wide variety of quality services which provide preventive care, acute care, sustainable long-term care and palliative care, and helps keep families intact while preserving an individual’s independence and dignity in the setting of his or her choice.
E. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring November 14-20 as National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week to recognize that hunger and homelessness continues to be a serious problem for many individuals and families in Catawba County and to encourage support for homeless assistance service providers as well as community service opportunities for students and school service organizations.
F. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring the week of November 19-26 as Farm-City Week to foster cooperation and an exchange of information between two essential segments of our society: farmers and city dwellers. The proclamation will urge citizens to participate in activities and events that have been designed to introduce people from both “worlds” to the lives and work of each other.
G. The Board will recognize ten graduates of the County’s Mini Course. Employees voluntarily attend sessions during lunch hours to learn more about the services each County department provides. This year’s graduates include: Linda Bevins, Public Health; Sarah Blanton, Social Services; Richard Crouse, Building Services; Sally Lackey, Tax; Dianna Musselman, Social Services; Deborah Robinson, Tax; Kezia Simonds, Social Services; Carolina Sronce, Finance; Linda Walker, Social Services and Linda Williams, Social Services.
A. The Board will consider authorizing the sole source exception from formal bidding for the purchase of selected modules of an Insight Public Health software program (Netsmart), to replace the functionality of current CMHC/MIS software and add basic electronic health record functionality. Funds for this project were appropriated in the County’s Fiscal Year 2010-2011 budget. CHMC/MIS is mental health software that was customized to work for Public Health many years ago, and is used to track data, run reports and transmit them to the State of North Carolina. All local health departments are required by the North Carolina Division of Public Health to provide substantial data relating to clients and services provided for clients. This data is submitted to the Division of Public Health through an electronic file transmitted to the State’s Health Information System (HIS). Only four programs have an interface recognized by HIS: Netsmart, Insight QS (an older version of Insight no longer available), CDP and Mitchell & McCormick.
Public Health and Technology staff researched software options. Insight is the only company providing an interface with the HIS system that is server-based. CDP and Mitchell & McCormick programs are web-based via a hosted system, through which the County would not have full access to its data when access to the host server is disrupted for any reason, including severe weather or contract termination. If, for any reason, Public Health did not have an Internet connection, it would not have access to the data base. With Insight, the data is contained in SQL (industry standard) files that may be accessed through any SQL-based database software program. Netsmart purchased CMHC and is offering software upgrades free of charge. A proposed contract in the amount of $95,780 includes implementation/conversion services and two additional software modules for electronic medical records and electronic billing for dental.
North Carolina General Statute 143-129 allows an exception from formal bidding for purchase contracts when performance or price competition for a product are not available; when a needed product is available from only one source of supply; or when standardization or compatibility is the overriding consideration. This exception requires the Board’s approval. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends authorization of the sole source exception for the purchase of selected modules of an Insight Public Health software program (Netsmart) for $95,780.
B. The Board will consider the establishment of fees (the cost of vaccine plus a $20 administration fee) for Diptheria, Tetanus and Pertussis, Haemophilus Influenza B and Pediatric Hepatitis B vaccines.
As of July 1, 2010, funds were eliminated from the State budget that had been used for all children, birth to 18 years of age, to receive State-supplied vaccines regardless of insurance status. The only persons now eligible for State-supplied vaccine are Medicaid recipients; the uninsured; the underinsured (whose insurance does not pay any amount on the vaccine) and American Indian/Alaskan Native. Clients with insurance (including North Carolina Health Choice) are now required to pay for all vaccines for persons from birth to age 18. Public Health can file a claim with a client’s insurance carrier or give a copy of the service to the client to file with their insurance carrier. The State allotted $3 million for counties to use during this transition year. This will allow local health departments and private providers to receive enough vaccine to cover required school shots for children entering kindergarten or students needing updates for school, up to 8th grade.
In response to these recent immunization changes and in an effort to eliminate barriers to care, Catawba County Public Health will maintain a supply of vaccines for children with insurance coverage who are not eligible for State-supplied vaccines. Public Health needs the following vaccines to have adequate supply of all required vaccines for children ages birth to 18 with insurance coverage: Tripedia (Dtap) for Diptheria, Tetanus and Pertussis; Ped Vax Hib for Haemophilus Influenza B and Recombivax HB Ped/Adol for Hepatitis B. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board establish fees for these vaccines as outlined above.
C. The Board will consider accepting grant funds from the US Department of Justice’s State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAPP) in the amount of $23,103 along with its required certifications and assurances. There are no matching funds required for this award. SCAAP is a formula-based grant program that provides agencies with reimbursement for some of the costs associated with housing potential undocumented criminal aliens in local jail facilities. 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 2008-2009. Funds under this program must be used for correctional purposes only. Staff determined the best application would be 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 Subcommitee recommends acceptance of these grant funds.
D. The Board will consider appropriating existing fund balance of the Mountain View Fire Department in the amount of $2,000. The funds will be used as part of a matching grant to purchase 800 MHz portable radios. The matching grant was awarded earlier in 2010 by the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program for a regional communications project that includes all Catawba County fire departments, rescue squads and Emergency Medical Services. The grant totals $1,004,954 and will provide 380 radios. Historically, each department has its own fund balance, carried from year to year unless the department makes a request to appropriate it. The fund balance is created through tax collections which exceed projections established by the County Budget Office prior to the fiscal year. Fire departments have been allowed to use 90% of existing fund balance to address major projects such as buildings, building additions, truck replacement and other non-operating budget needs such as equipment items. The remaining 10% of each department’s fund balance is held for unforeseen expenditures during the budget year. In fiscal year 2009-2010, Mountain View Fire Department requested that $18,770 of existing fund balance be appropriated. The County appropriated $16,645, withholding $2,125 to fund the 800 MHz radios if the grant was awarded. The Fire Department’s current fund balance is $12,383. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the appropriation of $2,000 in fund balance.
E. The Board will consider revising the Fiscal Year 2010-11 Social Services Child Support budget outcome to read as follows: To assure that children receive the financial support of their parents, the Child Support program will maintain a collection rate of 70.5% for child support payments during FY 2010-2011, as compared to the 65.8% statewide average.
The original outcome read as follows: To assure that children receive the financial support of their parents, the Child Support program will maintain a collection rate of 72% for child support payments during FY 2010-2011, as compared to the 65.8% statewide average.
Because of the economic downturn, thousands of non-custodial parents have been unable to maintain steady employment. Monthly reports from the N.C. Employment Security Commission have repeatedly reported that the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton MSA has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Over the past three years, the Child Support collection rate has declined, as parents who previously had stable wages have been trying to survive on a mix of part-time jobs and/or unemployment benefits. While collections from unemployment benefits have grown steadily over the past three years, collections from unemployment benefits do not equal collections from employed parents. State statutes establish that withholding from unemployment benefits for the payment of Child Support obligation cannot exceed 25%.
Collections from unemployment fell to $61,700 for July 2010 and are expected to continue dropping throughout the year. State officials anticipate a large drop in unemployment insurance after Federal legislation extending benefits expires at the end of November 2010. It is not anticipated that Congress will extend benefits again given the current Federal budget deficit. Last fall, Social Services’ Child Support Unit established the original collection rate outcome based on economic forecasts that suggested the country was coming out of the recession. While some areas of the country may have seen improvement, this area continues to struggle. The collection rate for July 2010 fell to 69.5%. In the prior three fiscal years, collection rates for July were 75.5%, 74.5%, and 73%. All data would suggest that the original outcome is no longer attainable. The Board’s Policy and Public Work’s Subcommittee recommends the revision of this outcome.
F. The Board will consider a tax refund request in the amount of $35.85. 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.
The Board will consider a three-year lease with the State of North Carolina for the Employment Security Commission (ESC) building on Highway 70, which will result in a one-stop facility for job seekers that will house the Workforce Development staff, JobLink, Goodwill Partners and the Employment Security Commission. This would allow Catawba County residents who need assistance after job loss to receive information about unemployment assistance, evaluating or
expanding job skills, and exploring available job openings and new career opportunities in one convenient location.
The North Carolina Employment Security Commission has occupied the County-owned building on Highway 70 since 1985 and the County has made substantial capital improvements to the property over the years to keep the building and grounds in good condition. The County currently leases 11,802 net square feet to the State for $8.33 per square foot, resulting in annual revenues to the County of $98,337.72. The most recent lease agreement expired on June 30, 2006 and the County and State have been operating under consecutive one-year lease terms since that time.
Last year, the County was approached by the Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board and Catawba County JobLink partners, who proposed a one-stop facility that would be co-located with Employment Security Commission at this central location in the county. The Workforce Development Board has contracted with Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) in the past for Workforce Investment Act case management services on the CVCC campus. By relocating to the ESC building, space would be freed up at CVCC to accommodate very heavy enrollment growth.
To accommodate the additional partners in the facility, renovations to the building are needed, including a new service counter, classrooms, parking spaces and additional signage, in the amount of $150,000. Catawba County’s share of the project would be $10,000, which consists of the front façade of the building facing Highway 70 and a 3% project contingency for unforeseen expenses. The balance of the project would be paid by the Workforce Development Board, CVCC and Goodwill Industries. Based on the new floor plan of the building, the County and State have negotiated a new three-year lease of 11,573 net square feet of office space at $8.75 per square foot, which will include space for the Employment Security Commission staff as well as their WorkForce Development, JobLink and Goodwill partners. The new lease agreement will provide annual revenue to the County of $101,263.75 with a 1% annual increase for inflation. The County will continue to provide maintenance and repair to the building and grounds as in prior years. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the approval of the proposed three-year lease agreement with the State of North Carolina to house the Employment Security Commission and its partners in the County-owned building on Highway 70 and the appropriation of funds in the amount of $150,000 to make renovations to the building.
B. SOCIAL SERVICES
The Board will consider adopting a resolution declaring two county-owned vehicles as surplus and authorizing the donation of these vehicles to Exodus Homes. Exodus Homes is a faith-based United Way agency that offers transitional and permanent supportive housing for homeless recovering addicts, alcoholics and formerly incarcerated people returning to the community from treatment programs and prison. Transportation is provided seven days a week by volunteer resident drivers who take people to work, look for employment, recovery support groups, medical appointments and other places such as court, Social Services, Public Health and Mental Health. Residents are encouraged to use the bus, walk or ride a bike whenever possible, but transportation in vehicles is still required on a daily basis. The organization uses donated cars for this service and has lost several lately to old age, with worn out transmissions and blown engines. The organization now has only one vehicle that is operational and can be used for general transportation purposes.
Exodus Homes has a positive impact on the community. Without their services, the impact to Catawba County would include the following: homelessness and crime would increase; unemployed fathers would not be able to pay child support; homeless recovering parents would not be able to work their case plans with Social Services to be reunited with their children from foster care; homeless recovering people would not be tested and treated for HIV; and homeless recovering people would not be able to apply and qualify for the Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministries clinic and free pharmacy to be treated for diseases.
Exodus Homes has requested two vehicles that are no longer needed by the County: a 1998 Ford Crown Victoria with approximate value of $750 and a 1993 Chevrolet Lumina with approximate value of $400. North Carolina General Statute 160A-279 authorizes the 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 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 declaration of these vehicles as surplus and donation of the vehicles to Exodus Homes.
C. COOPERATIVE EXTENSION
The Board will consider accepting grant funding in the amount of $14,965 from Catawba County Schools to support 4-H programming in schools receiving Federal Title One funding. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension-Catawba Center has an extensive history of working collaboratively with local school systems. 4-H has a collaborative relationship with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and has developed and supports school enrichment curriculum that compliments grade level competencies.
Funding from Catawba County Schools will be used to hire a part-time hourly temporary Program Assistant (25-30 hours a week) who will coordinate and teach 4-H programming in Title One schools. Programs supported through this grant will include a science school enrichment for 2nd-6th grade, 4-H after-school clubs and Health Rocks, a nationally used 4-H substance abuse prevention education program that will be taught in 5th grade classes and/or after-school. Health Rocks educates youth about the dangers and health consequences of tobacco, alcohol and drug use, and helps youth improve skills in decision-making, stress management and coping with peer pressure. North Carolina Cooperative Extension will continue to support schools using LifeSkills, a 6th grade substance abuse prevention education program.
Funding and programming will support two of North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s 2010-11 outcomes. One of those states that 1000 youth will increase their understanding of science and improve critical thinking and analytical skills as a result of participating in 4-H Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs offered through school enrichment during the after-school setting, or as part of summer programs. 250 youth participating in volunteer led 4-H clubs will improve their life skills in oral and written communication, citizenship and leadership as a result of their participation in life skills building programs offered through North Carolina and Catawba County 4-H programs.
In addition, the following outcome will be added to Cooperative Extension’s 2010-11 outcomes to measure the expectation of this grant-funded program and the target audience it will impact: 500 students will learn about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use as a result of participating in educational programs offered through 4-H. Students will increase their knowledge about tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, and their skills in decision-making, stress management, and managing peer pressure as a result of participating in Health Rocks or LifeSkills programs. Changes will be measured using a written evaluation completed by students and adults who work with students on a daily basis.
The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends acceptance of these grant funds to support 4-H programming in Title One schools.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464