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December 5 , 2005

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, December 5, 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 Regular Meeting of November 21, 2005.

5.    Organizational Meeting of the Board of Commissioners:
a.    Election of Chair and Vice-Chair

b.    Organizational Appointments:

1.    County Attorney
2.    Finance and Personnel Subcommittee
3.    Policy and Public Works Subcommittee
4.    WPCOG Policy Board Delegate
5.    WPCOG Policy Board Alternate
6.    Hospital Board of Trustees
7.    Mental Health Services Board
8.    Public Health Board
9.    Social Services Board  and Community Service Block Grant Advisory Board
10.    Catawba County Criminal Partnership Advisory Board
11.    Catawba County Partnership for Children Board
12.    Child Advocacy Center Board
13.    Juvenile Crime Prevention Council
6.    Recognition of Special Guests.

7.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

8.    Presentations:
a.    New State Vehicle Tax Billing System. Presented by Randy Moose, Tax Administrator.

b.  Comprehensive Annual Financial Report by FY 2005.  Presented by Rodney Miller, Finance Director and Paula Hodges, Martin Starnes & Associates.

9.    Appointments.

10.    Departmental Reports
a.  Mental Health:
1.  Mental Health Budget Revision.  Presented by John Hardy, Mental Health Director.
2.  Update on Secretary Odom’s  proposal for regionalization. Presented by John  Hardy, Mental Health Director.
b.    Parks:
Riverbend Park Habitat Restoration Project and Timber Sale.  Presented by  Blair Rayfield, Parks Manager and Debbie Anderson, Purchasing Agent.
c.    Planning:
Appointment by Resolution of Review Officer for Town of Long View.  Presented by Rich Hoffman, Planner.
11.    Attorneys’ Report.

12.    Manager’s Report.

13.    Other items of business.

14.    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 December 19, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. County offices will be closed December 22, 23 and 26 in observance of Christmas and January 2, 2006 in observance of the New Year’s holiday.

DECEMBER 5, 2005,  9:30 A.M.


The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will receive the County's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2005; and consider the sale of timber resulting from a Habitat Restoration Project at Riverbend Park, designed to promote the restoration of the forest as originally found in that area, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, December 5, 2005, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton. 

The Board will also hold its annual organizational meeting to select a chairperson and vice-chairperson for the coming year and appoint commissioners to serve on board subcommittees; receive an update on a proposal from the North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services to consolidate into regions certain administrative functions currently provided by Area Mental Health Authorities; consider a revision to the current budget for Catawba County Mental Health Services to account for additional funds received from the State; consider the appointment of a new Map Review Officer for the Town of Long View, and receive a presentation on the State's new Vehicle Tax Billing System. 

The Board will hold its annual organizational meeting to select a Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson for the next year, as well as to appoint a County Attorney, and appoint commissioners to serve on Board subcommittees and as members of the Public Health, Social Services, Mental Health Services and Catawba Valley Medical Center Boards; and as voting delegate and alternate to the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

A.  The County's Tax Administrator, Mr. Randy Moose, will give the board an overview of the changes expected to the State's Vehicle Tax Billing System, beginning in 2009, as a result of House Bill 1779 passed in the last session of the North Carolina General Assembly.  Although a number of details remain to be outlined by the State, the new law will mean that, instead of the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles sending a license plate renewal notice to the owner of a motor vehicle and the County Tax Office then sending a separate tax bill for that vehicle, the North Carolina Department of Revenue will send both a license plate renewal notice and a tax bill for each vehicle in a single mailing.  Since taxes on a vehicle will be paid at the time of license plate renewal, the new law is expected to insure a near 100% collection rate for registered motor vehicles, which historically has shown a lower collection rate than for real property.

B.  The Board will receive the County's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, for the fiscal year which ended on June 30, 2005, from County Finance Director Rodney Miller and Paula Hodges of Martin, Starnes and Associates, CPAs, the accounting firm which has contracted to perform the County's audit.  Their report will show that, as local economic conditions have improved, the County's financial picture has improved and that the County has maintained a sound financial position by carefully controlling spending, despite lower than normal property tax revenue and continued pressure to meet Medicaid costs and fund necessary expansion to services.

A.  The Board will consider a revision to the current Mental Health Services budget, to increase that budget by $636,285, mostly in additional State funds, bringing the total budget to $19,405,487.  This revision adds no new positions and requests no additional County funding.  Adjustments in this budget revision include: 

1) $392,411 in additional State funding, as follows: a) $27,300 on a recurring basis to supplement current funding for a Geriatric Specialty Team, which provides follow up to consumers moved back to the community from state hospitals as downsizing continues, and formal training for community caregivers providing services in Catawba County and the Foothills Area Program; b) $354,000 in Community Capacity Funds, to be used to contract with Catawba Valley Behavioral Healthcare (CVBH) for a project designed to “divert” consumers needing inpatient care back to the local area for service rather than to state psychiatric facilities. The funds will secure three in-patient beds at Catawba Valley Medical Center and provide funding for three CVBH staff responsible for assessment and referral; and c) to reflect receipt of $11,111 more than anticipated from a Criminal Justice Partnership Program Grant approved for FY 2005/2006.  These funds will be used to provide substance abuse direct and support services for adults through the Criminal Justice System.  Approximately 120 adults were served through the grant last year, so additional funds will increase service capacity.

2) A realignment of $5533 in State dollars to increase Adult Developmental Disabilities funding for Goodwill Industries by $7335 and reduce Child Development Disabilities funding for CVBH by $1802.

3) A $20,000 increase in Medicaid funds for services provided by two Community Access Program providers, Footprints and the ARC, to provide and supplement case management services to more than 70 consumers referred to these providers as the result of service divestiture from Mental Health Services of Catawba County.

4)  $61,000 will be used for the Pathways program, to purchase bed days from Catawba Valley Medical Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse clients, through Mental Health Services of Catawba County.
5) $132,341 in refunds are expected from providers to reconcile advances paid beyond actual service provision earnings.  Of this amount, $119,726 will be appropriated to CVBH and Clay Wilson for additional services rendered in FY 2004/2005.  The remaining $12,615 will roll to Local Managing Entity (LME) Reserve.

6)  Mental Health Fund Balance in the amount of $25,000 will be appropriated for the LifeSkills program.  The LifeSkills building requires some modifications to its landscaping where excessive erosion has taken place. This work is estimated not to exceed $10,000.  The project has not been closed out and a settlement with the bonding company and their contractor is not complete, however attention needs to be given to the problem now so it does not worsen during the winter. Management will make needed repairs, then recoup the appropriate amount in the settlement process. The additional $15,000 will provide a cushion for any other negotiations in the closing process.

7)  $10,000 is being transferred from the LME reserve line item to the Adult Life contract line item to assist with expenses incurred from adding four full-time and two part-time staff, and the purchase and installation of computers and telephone service.  This will assist staff to continue providing quality customer service.

The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the revision as presented.

B.  The Board will receive an update from Mental Health Services Director, John Hardy, on a proposal from NC Secretary of Health and Human Services, Carmen Hooker Odom, to consolidate into regions certain administrative functions currently provided by Area Mental Health Authorities.  On September 21, 2005, Secretary Odom outlined a proposal to consolidate these functions to gain greater efficiencies from the system and save $28 million annually.  The specific functions being considered for consolidation are Utilization Review and after-hours Screening, Triage, and Referral.  There is no current plan to consolidate the area programs, only a possible merging of functions.

A.  The Board will consider a proposed Riverbend Park Habitat Restoration Project, and consider declaring approximately 30 acres of timber located in the park as surplus and authorize its sale.  Riverbend Park is a 450-acre passive recreation park off Highway 16 North that focuses on education and preservation. It includes 200 acres planted in Loblolly Pine, 8 acres of wetland, a 2 acre pond, 30 acres of meadow grassland, 20 acres of middle aged successional forest and 30 acres of trails, with the remainder a mixture of hardwood forest and riparian habitat. One important habitat type missing at Riverbend Park is early successional forest.  The 200 acres of Loblolly Pine were planted with the intent of being harvested at maturity (around thirty years of age). Over 35 acres of Loblolly Pine at the park have reached maturity and are ready for harvest. Planted Loblolly Pine is a monoculture habitat providing very little benefit to wildlife diversity and sustainability, is not considered native to the area and, when planted in rows with dominating canopies, does not allow native plant life to occur or thrive. To create maximum habitat diversity and in order for the property to become a true native mature forest for future generations, staff proposes to begin a management plan to reduce the Loblolly habitat from 200 acres to 50 acres or less over the next forty years and cultivate the type of forest that is native to the area. 

Staff proposes that Mr. Raymond Taylor of Taylor Forestry, who is currently managing a timber harvest at the Blackburn Landfill, oversee the sale of this timber. He has inspected the proposed habitat restoration area at Riverbend Park and believes the project can be executed to meet County expectations, which is to cause minimal interference on park usage, place a priority on the safety of park patrons and have a positive environmental impact.  The County has stipulated that no hauling of timber will occur during the park's operating hours and that the entire project area will be surrounded with caution tape written in both Spanish and English.  Park staff will create an educational campaign regarding the project, using brochures and word-of-mouth information.  After a casual observation of the tracts involved, staff estimates the timber sales may result in revenue in excess of  $30,000 and possibly as high as $60,000.  In North Carolina, standing timber is most commonly sold through a timber deed, conveyed as a fee simple title to the timber.  North Carolina General Statute 160A-268 authorizes the sale of real property by sealed bid procedure and states it will be done in a manner prescribed by law for the purchase of real property.  The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board contract with Mr. Raymond Taylor to conduct the sale, for a fee of 8% of the sale proceeds.

B.  The Board will consider a request from the Town of Long View to appoint Mr. Charles T. Mullis as Map Review Officer.  The resolution would remove Russell Cochran as a review officer.  On July 17, 1997, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified Senate Bill 875 which requires all counties to appoint review officers to review each plat or map before it is recorded, and certify it meets statutory requirements for mapping.  The law states that individuals be appointed by name, not by job title so, when a change occurs in staffing, a new Review Officer must be appointed and approved by resolution of the Board and recorded in the Register of Deed’s Office.  Staff recommends the Board adopt the resolution appointing Charles Mullis as Review Officer for the Town of Long View.