PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2009, 9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, NC
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider proposed separate amendments to the County Code that would 1) extend term limits for members of the Catawba Valley Medical Center Board of Trustees, so as to retain experienced members for a longer period of time and address a recommendation to maintain appropriate accreditation for the Center and 2) incorporate Federal changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act related to employees with family members in the armed services, and consider moving forward in partnership with the City of Hickory on an expansion and update of the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Plant to increase the plant’s treatment capacity to meet the County’s service needs in southeast Catawba County, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, November 2, 2009 at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
The Board will also consider adopting a 2010 meeting schedule; and will receive an update on the results of the 2009 session of the North Carolina General Assembly. The Board will recognize citizens of southeastern Catawba County who recently took part in “Catawba County University”, a two-day class on county government; recognize eleven County employees who have completed the County’s Employee Mini Course and issue proclamations declaring the week of November 20-26, 2009 as Farm-City Week and the month of November as Adoption Awareness Month.
A. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring the week of November 20-26 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.
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 from abuse. Last year, more than 1700 foster children were adopted in North Carolina and 58 of those children were in the Catawba County foster care system.
C. The Board will recognize eleven 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: Robin Austin, Social Services; Tia Dellinger, Finance; Ronda Gomez, Utilities & Engineering; Joyce Jarrett, Tax; Temple Lawing, Technology; Annette Moebius, Social Services; Angie Sapoch, Public Health; Angie Speagle, Public Health; Gina Styer, Tax; Kim Sue, Utilities & Engineering; and Dawn Wilson, Social Services.
D. The Board will recognize citizens who recently completed a session of “Catawba County University”, a course on Catawba County Government designed, in this case, for residents of southeast Catawba County. Twenty-two citizens took the two-day course on October 27 and 29 at the Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire and Rescue Headquarters. They learned about the work of the Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Services, Public Health, Social Services, the Elections Office, Catawba Valley Medical Center, the County’s Planning, Development and Parks Department, its Department of Utilities and Engineering and Library System; the dissemination of information to citizens through the internet, Catawba County E-News, the County’s Facebook and Twitter sites, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension- Catawba Center and the Public Information Office; the Register of Deeds Office; how the Board of Commissioners works with County Management to put policies in place; and how the County budget is created each year.
Those attending included: Beck Anderson, Jack and Pat Baumann, Richard and Anthony Borg, Frank Cina, Christina Daniels, Bob Hennes, Glenn and Susan Hunsucker, Ernest (Buddy) Kirby, Bill Lush, John and Julie Marino, Richard
and Phyllis Myers, Mary Ann Neil, Gary Sherwood, Alan and Renee Slonim, Evelyn Smith and Elaine Underwood.
A. The Board will consider amending the Catawba County Code to increase the term limits for members of the Catawba Valley Medical Center Board of Trustees, in response to the increased governance responsibilities of hospital trustees mandated by The Joint Commission, in order to maintain appropriate accreditation for Catawba Valley Medical Center.
The Joint Commission, which serves as the accreditation body with jurisdiction over Catawba Valley Medical Center (CVMC) has, in recent years, increased the requirements placed on CVMC and similar hospitals with regard to the governance responsibilities for members of hospital boards of trustees needed to maintain proper accreditation. Meeting these increased expectations requires CVMC to provide increased training and educational resources, through the use of internal hospital personnel or the procurement of third-party vendors to provide this training. In an effort to conserve resources while meeting these increased expectations, CVMC has relied, as much as possible, on internal resources for this training and education. Given the significant additional investment to properly educate the members of the CVMC Board of Trustees and avoid the loss of valuable talent, both the officers and the Board of Trustees of Catawba Valley Medical Center feel it is appropriate to follow the recommendation of the National Public Health and Hospital Institute that the term of trustees should be four years, with a three term limit. The County Code currently restricts appointments to two consecutive terms with reappointment allowed only after a one year absence from serving on the Board of Trustees. The length of the term in office would remain four years under the proposed amendment. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends approval of this proposed amendment to the County Code.
B. The Board will consider amending the section of the County Personnel Code which deals with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by replacing the current section with a totally revised section that would address the current amendments to this law. In January 2009, amendments went into effect that substantially expanded the benefits available under FMLA. The added provisions allow for two new circumstances under which employees with family members in the armed services may be entitled to FMLA leave. The new amendments add the following leave entitlements for eligible employees: Qualifying Exigency: up to 12 weeks in a one year period for an “exigency” (urgency or crisis) related to active duty military service by the employee’s immediate family member; and Caregiver Leave: up to 26 weeks to care for a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin who is a member of the armed forces and is undergoing medical treatment or is medically unfit to perform military duties due to an injury or illness incurred while on active duty.
In addition to these two additional leave entitlements, other significant changes made to this Federal law include revised FMLA forms, an increase in the time frame to request medical certification from 2 to 5 days, comp time off will run concurrently with FMLA leave, and a provision permitting direct contact by Human Resources with a medical provider for verification purposes. Because of these substantial changes to the law, it was determined that a complete rewrite of Section 28-201 of the Personnel Code would provide County employees with a clearer understanding of their rights under the law and ensure the correct implementation of the law by Human Resources. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this amendment to the Personnel Code.
C. The Board will consider setting a meeting schedule for 2010. Scheduling a first meeting in January is traditionally difficult because the accompanying subcommittee meetings fall during the holiday week between Christmas and New Year. The first meeting in July falls during the 4th of July holiday week and the second July meeting falls during the National Association of Counties’ Annual Meeting, so it is proposed that a single July meeting be held on Monday, July 12, at 7 p.m. The August 16, 2010 meeting falls during Soldiers Reunion Week, so it would not be feasible for the Board to meet at its usual location, the 1924 Courthouse in Newton. Staff proposes budget hearings with departments for Tuesday, June 1, 2010, with a public hearing and wrap-up on the budget to be held on Thursday, June 3, 2010 and budget adoption scheduled for the Board’s June 7, 2010 meeting. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the following changes to the Board’s meeting schedule for 2010: 1) cancellation of the January 4, 2010 meeting and accompanying subcommittee session; 2) cancellation of the July 5, 2010 and the July 19, 2010 meetings and accompanying subcommittee sessions, and the holding of one July meeting on Monday, July 12, 2010 with no accompanying subcommittee meetings; 3) moving of the August 16, 2010 meeting to a location other than the 1924 Courthouse; 4) scheduling of the Board’s annual breakfast meeting with Cooperative Extension Service staff for December 6, 2010 at 8 a.m.; and 5) the Board’s budget hearings with departments would be held on Tuesday, June 1, 2010, with a public hearing and wrap-up session beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, 2010. Budget adoption would be scheduled for the Board’s meeting at 9:30 a.m. on June 7, 2010. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommended adoption of this meeting schedule.
UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
The Board will consider moving forward in partnership with the City of Hickory on the expansion and upgrade of the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Plant; directing staff to work with City of Hickory staff to proceed with preparations for the construction of the expansion/upgrade of the plant, and directing staff to proceed with arranging for the financing of the County’s share of the construction, construction administration, and construction quality assurance inspection activities for the expansion/upgrade of the plant. The County’s share is estimated to be $4,030,000. The joint expansion of the plant will be necessary to meet the County’s 750,000 gallons per day in treatment needs, in order to provide wastewater collection to the Highway 150 corridor and other areas of the southeastern portion of the county.
On June 16, 2003, the County entered into a contract with the City of Hickory which was amended on September 20, 2006.
The initial step in the contract amendments called for the joint selection of an engineer to design an expansion of the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Plant, after which Hickory and the County would jointly decide whether to move forward. The design of the plant expansion is complete and the permitting process is in its final steps with the issuance of a Authorization to Construct, after which the project may go out for bids.
In the amended contract, the County and the City agree to pay their commensurate share of the design, construction administration and quality assurance inspection costs associated with the expansion of the plant, and the County agrees to pay 100% of the cost required to provide the 750,000 gallons per day of treatment capacity needed by the County. The County’s share of the design fees have been paid. The construction administration, quality assurance inspection fees, and construction are estimated to cost $8,060,000 of which 50%, or $4,030,000, would be Catawba County’s share.
The financing terms for borrowing the $4,030,000 for the expansion of the plant are anticipated to be 4.50% interest for 20 years, resulting in an annual debt service payment of $308,000. When the County’s 8-year Capital Improvement Plan was developed for fiscal year 2009/2010, annual debt service obligations of $352,467 were used in order to determine the effect of this financing on other water and sewer projects over the 8-year period and that figure was included in the County’s 2009/2010 budget. At this time, staff anticipates the project going out for bids in December 2009, with bid award in late January to February 2010 and construction beginning in the spring of 2010. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommended moving forward with the expansion of the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The Board will receive an update on the results of the 2009 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly. This session convened on January 28, 2009 and adjourned on August 11, 2009. During this time, 2,752 bills were filed. A review of the Board’s legislative goals indicates the following goals were fully or partially met during this session: oppose the transfer of responsibility for North Carolina secondary road infrastructure to counties; oppose any State efforts to force additional unfunded mandates or take away local revenues as a result of the State budget crisis; oppose attempts to eliminate the prohibition on collective bargaining for public employees; support enabling legislation to allow the City of Hickory and the City of Conover to consider an increase in the room occupancy tax for economic development; support flexible local revenue options to avoid future property tax increase or reduce the property tax rate; support a fairer distribution method in the School Capital Fund Formula/Lottery Proceeds; support the recruitment of datacenters across the State by revising and updating the definition of an “Eligible Datacenter” resulting in the exemption of sales taxes on electricity sold to eligible datacenters; support greater flexibility in the use of E-911 funds; oppose attempts to reduce the property tax base and place more of a burden on property taxpayers; support allowing all Tier 1 and 2 counties to be eligible for Industrial Development Fund (IDF) infrastructure funding; support increasing IDF funding per job to $15,000 for Tier 1 counties and $10,000 per job for all Tier 2 counties and increasing the IDF funding ceiling to $750,000 per project; support the re-evaluation of Senate Bill 845 (regarding drinking water testing from wells) in order to assess the need for the sampling of private drinking water from wells; support the protection and adequacy of local water resources; support the State’s restoring of financial incentives for counties to opt to be “Electing Counties” for Departments of Social Services, and support additional child care subsidies funding. County goals that were not met during this session include: support of an increase to $35,000 in the Homestead Exclusion income limit to provide additional tax relief to senior citizens; support an increase in the reimbursement rate for state inmates in county jails; support an exemption of the State sales tax on purchases made by local school systems; support an increase in the reimbursement rate for local government legal work related to in-rem foreclosures; support an increase in State funding for Child Advocacy Centers; support a rate increase for Medicaid and State mental health services; support funds for a pilot program to better protect elderly citizens, and support more guardianship funding for adult wards in County custody.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464