PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2008, 7:00 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, NC
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider amendments to the County's Animal Control Ordinance, following a review of the impacts of amendments to the ordinance that were approved in May 2008, and receive an update on the County's Erosion Control Ordinance when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 17, 2008, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
The Board will also consider awarding a bid for the purchase and sale of "green certificates", renewable energy credits produced by electrical generation facilities at the Blackburn Landfill that are sold in an energy attributes market; the allocation of additional State funds received this year for programs of the Catawba County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council; the appropriation of the fund balance of Newton-Conover Rescue for that squad's purchase of rescue equipment; and the use of the sole source exception to purchase components used with a statewide Emergency Services patient tracking and triage system made by only one manufacturer.
A. The Board will consider allocating $12,143 in additional State funds, received by the Catawba County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, to currently funded agencies. The Council recommends that $4,112 be allocated to Social Services’ Corner House I and II for a two-week summer camping experience and $2,265 be allocated to the Conflict Resolution Center and $5,766 be appropriated to the Catawba County Schools/Parenting Network to serve additional youth. The Board of Commissioners’ Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommended approval of these allocations.
B. The Board will consider appropriating the existing fund balance of Newton-Conover Rescue, in the amount of $13,086. The funds will be used for a matching grant to purchase rescue equipment. Prior to 1999, each squad had its own fund balance which was carried from year to year unless the squad made a request to appropriate it. In 1999, a decision was made to consolidate the squad fund balances into one Rescue Fund Balance. Each squad’s fund balance prior to 1999 was set aside until the squad chose to appropriate it. To access the fund balance, rescue squads submit a use proposal to be voted on by the Rescue Association and agreed to by the County. Newton-Conover Rescue has been saving its fund balance and is now requesting to use these funds to purchase needed rescue equipment. The squad has applied for the 2008 Volunteer Rescue EMS Fund Grant which requires the squad to match the amount granted. The total cost of the equipment requested through the grant is $38,497.42, with Newton-Conover Rescue’s match being $19,248.71. The requested fund balance of $13,086 will be applied toward that match. This equipment includes protective clothing for rescue squad members, new communications equipment that will improve pager coverage, and medical equipment, including 14 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). The purchase and distribution of the AEDs will give members who respond without a rescue squad vehicle the ability to expedite treatment to patients without having to wait for an equipped vehicle to arrive on scene. This will bring treatment to the patient faster, and may ultimately save lives. The cost to citizens will be reduced as a result of the grant, while the full benefit of this equipment will impact the community as a whole. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommended appropriation of the existing fund balance as requested.
C. The Board will consider authorizing the sole source exception allowed under North Carolina law for the purchase of SMART Triage System components. The project is part of a collaboration between North Carolina Emergency Management and the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. It is designed to build a statewide Patient Tracking and Triage System. In April 2007, the Board approved a supplemental appropriation to accept a Patient Tracking, Triage and Transportation grant funded by the Department of Homeland Security in the amount of $450,000.
The component equipment now being considered would be divided between 100 EMS systems in the state, based on the number of permitted vehicles each system owns. Catawba County is acting as agent for all counties with regard to a new $450,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The grant is very specific about the precise equipment to be ordered, stating it must be SMART MCI Triage System equipment. BoundTree Medical of Chicago, Illinois is the sole and exclusive distributor of this product in the U.S. North Carolina General Statute 143-129 allows an exception from formal bidding when performance or price competition for a product is not available; when a needed product is available from only one source of supply; or when standardization or compatibility is the overriding consideration. All of the equipment will be ordered from BoundTree Medical for a total cost of $436,580, with $13,420 to be used for contractual fees to administer the grant, for a total of $450,000. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommended approval of the use of the sole source exception for purchase of this equipment.
A. UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
1. The Board will consider awarding a bid for purchase and sale services for “green certificates” (renewable energy certificates) to 3 Degrees Group, Inc. Catawba County’s Co-Generation Facility engines produce an average of 14,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year through burning of methane produced naturally in landfills . A green certificate credit is similar to stock and can be traded or sold in the renewable energy attributes market. Certificates are sold or purchased for a given length of time and the seller has no control of the trading during the “sold” period. On August 2, 2004, the Board approved the marketing and sale of green certificate credits by 3 Phases Energy, currently doing business as 3 Degrees Group, Inc., until the end of calendar year 2006 at the rate of $1.45 per megawatt hour (MWh) for amounts ranging from 9,500 to 11,250 MWhs. On June 6, 2005, the Board approved an extension of that contract to the end of 2008 and increased quantities to 20,000 MWhs per year. Through June 2008, 71,679 MWh has been sold for a total of $103,904, which will remain in the County’s Solid Waste Enterprise Fund to offset solid waste expenses. All costs associated with the landfill and solid waste activities are funded from the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund, derived from solid waste tipping fees and other solid waste revenues containing no ad valorem tax proceeds. Recognizing that the value of green certificate credits has increased, the County issued a Request for Proposals on September 29, 2008. On October 23, 2008, the County received two proposals for green certificate purchase and sales services. Staff reviewed the proposals from 3 Degrees Group, Inc. for $4 per MWh for 2009 and $5 per MWh for 2010, and from Sterling Planet, Inc., for $1.63 per MWh for both 2009 and 2010. Staff and the Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommended awarding the bid for purchase and sale of green certificates to 3 Degrees Group, Inc. through 2010.
2. The Board will consider amending the County’s Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Ordinance. The Board adopted a soil erosion and sedimentation ordinance (Catawba County Code, Chapter 31) on May 19, 2005. The Towns of Catawba, Long View and Maiden and the Cities of Claremont, Conover and Hickory contracted with the County for erosion control administration, which began on July 1, 2005. Since the adoption of the original ordinance, changes in North Carolina regulations have occurred. North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 113A, Article 4, was amended in 2007 to include changes to protect endangered species. Thus, Chapter 31 of the County Code requires an amendment to adhere to the State General Statues. The proposed amendments include the following: 1) additional information on endangered species following comments from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and language to protect endangered species where the County is extending the Southeastern Catawba County sewer line; 2) flood plain preservation following comments from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and added language to further protect flood plain from structure encroachment; 3) a decrease in the time limit for slopes to be stabilized to 21 calendar days, to match the General Statutes; 4) language regarding adherence to plans to indicate that not following a submitted plan is a violation in and of itself; 5) language that civil penalty funds will be deposited in the General Fund and no longer with the County’s school systems to reflect another change in the State statutes; and 6) the addition of express plan review. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommended approval of the proposed amendments.
The Board will consider amendments to the Catawba County Animal Control Ordinance. In May 2008, the Board approved amendments to this ordinance. Some of those amendments addressed dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs. Since May, staff has had an opportunity to see how the new regulations impact dangerous or potentially dangerous dog cases. After reviewing the impact of the new ordinances, staff is now recommending some adjustments.
The changes being recommended are designed to make the enforcement of the dangerous and potentially dangerous dog provisions as clear as possible for the public and staff; protect public safety; provide the public with as much flexibility as possible; and further align the definitions and confinement requirements to the North Carolina General Statutes.
Some of the amendments approved in May 2008 pertain to dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs. Prior to the May 2008 amendments, the County had definitions for vicious and dangerous dogs but no definition for “potentially dangerous dogs”. North Carolina General Statutes had definitions with different titles (dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs). The inconsistency in definition titles between the County’s Ordinance and the North Carolina General Statutes consistently caused confusion for those impacted by the provisions. In an effort to make the County’s Animal Control Ordinance easier to interpret, Catawba County’s definitions were aligned more closely with the N.C. General Statute definitions.
In addition to changes to the definitions, additional changes were made in May 2008 regarding confinement instructions for dogs that are declared potentially dangerous. For dogs that are deemed dangerous, the May 2008 amendments to the Catawba County Animal Control Ordinance state that the animal must be humanely destroyed. This addresses cases where a dog has killed or severely injured a human or is being trained or kept for dog fighting. Catawba County’s Ordinance is more strict than the North Carolina General Statutes in these cases.
When a dog is declared potentially dangerous, North Carolina General Statute 67 4.2 prescribes the minimum confinement requirements that a local government may employ. The statute states, “It is unlawful for an owner to: (1) leave a dangerous dog unattended on the owner's real property unless the dog is confined indoors, in a securely enclosed and locked pen, or in another structure designed to restrain the dog; and (2) permit a dangerous dog to go beyond the owner's real property unless the dog is leashed and muzzled or is otherwise securely restrained and muzzled.” General Statute 67-4.2 also states that, “If the owner of a dangerous dog transfers ownership or possession of the dog to another person as defined in G.S. 12 3(6), the owner shall provide written notice to: (1) the authority that made the determination under this Article, stating the name and address of the new owner or possessor of the dog; and (2) the person taking ownership or possession of the dog, specifying the dog's dangerous behavior and the authority's determination.” Violation of this section is a Class 3 misdemeanor.
When Catawba County staff made recommendations to change the confinement requirements in May 2008, the intent was to make the requirements as clear as possible for the public. Staff found in the past that no specified enclosure requirements was causing inconsistency in the enforcement and adherence to written instructions. The changes made in May 2008 allowed for only one option, the confinement of a potentially dangerous dog in a secure enclosure designed to specifications outlined in the amended ordinance. Recommended changes to the confinement requirements for dogs declared potentially dangerous include adding indoor confinement as an option, at the discretion of the Animal Services Manager or his/her designee, and modification of the requirements for when a dog must be leashed and muzzled, from when it is removed from the enclosure to when it is off the owner’s property. This more closely aligns the requirement with the North Carolina General Statutes. Additionally, a dangerous and potentially dangerous appeal bond has been removed and changes to the language are recommended pertaining to the relocation of a potentially dangerous dog.
The recommended changes include changes to the definition of a potentially dangerous dog. A dog would no longer be declared potentially dangerous if it kills or inflicts severe injury on a domestic animal or approaches a person in a vicious or terrorizing manner in an apparent attitude of attack when the dog is on the owner’s premises. The recommended ordinance would define a potentially dangerous dog as a dog that severely injures or kills a domestic animal when not on the owner’s property, or approaches a person in a vicious or terrorizing manner in an apparent attitude of attack when not on the owner’s property. This would make these definitions mirror the North Carolina General Statute definition in these cases. The removal of the provision that a dog is potentially dangerous when it inflicts an unprovoked bite on an animal is also recommended.
Recommended changes to the dangerous and potentially dangerous dog appeal procedure include language clarifications to require the Dangerous Dog Appellate Board to hold an appeal hearing within 10 days of the appeal being filed with the County; language inserted that will require the members of the Dangerous Dog Appellate Board to disclose any prior personal involvement they have had with the case or other conflicts of interest and recuse themselves accordingly; and language added to clarify the structure of the Dangerous Dog Appellate Board which states that the Board would be composed of five regular members; allow the addition of two alternate members of the Dangerous Dog Appellate Board to make it easier to obtain a quorum and stating that a quorum of three members is needed in order to conduct business; that Dangerous Dog Appellate Board members are appointed by the Board of Commissioners for terms that run until a successor is appointed; that at least one veterinarian is to serve on the Dangerous Dog Appellate Board; and that all Dangerous Dog Appellate Board members must reside in Catawba County.
The recommended language would require Animal Services to inspect the location where a dog is being relocated to ensure compliance with the written confinement instructions. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommended that the Board of Commissioners adopt these amendments to the Catawba County Animal Control Ordinance. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee did not make a recommendation on the new confinement options recommended by staff, due to a one to one split on the staff recommendations.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464