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February 20, 2006

AGENDA 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, February 20, 2006, 7 p.m. 

Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse 
30 North College Avenue, Newton, NC 28658
 
1.    Call to Order.

2.    Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

3.    Invocation.

4.    Approval of Minutes from the Regular and Closed Session meetings of February 6, 2006.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Public Hearings:
a.    Closeout Public Hearing for Community Development Block Grant Infrastructure Hook Up.  Presented by Jack I. Chandler, Public Services Administrator, Utilities and Engineering

b.    Public Hearing for the CDBG Individual Development Account Program.  Presented by Jacky Eubanks, Planning Director.
8.    Appointments.

9.    Consent Agenda:
a.    Supplemental Appropriation of Funds – Implementation of the North Carolina Hospital Bioterriorism Preparedness Grant (HRSA) FY 2004-5005.

b.    Supplemental Appropriation for EMPG Supplemental Grant Award and Supplemental Appropriation for Duke Power McGuire Allocation.
10.    Departmental Reports.
a.    Economic Development Corporation:
1.  CommScope Incentives.  Presented by Scott Millar, President, Economic Development Corporation.

2.  Incentives for Getrag USA (Maiden Expansion).  Presented by Scott Millar, President, Economic Development Corporation.
b.    Emergency Services:
Supplemental Appropriation of Funds to Execute Homeland Security Grant 2005 Memorandum of Agreement No. 10008 for the Procurement and Implementation of a Citizen Alert Notification System for Catawba County.  Presented by David A. Weldon, Emergency Services Director.
11.    Other items of business.
   
12.    Attorneys’ Report.
   
13.    Manager’s Report.
2006 Federal Legislative Agenda. Presented by Joellen Daley, Assistant County Manager.
14.    Adjournment.

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
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.

INFOTALK/INTERNET
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 http://www.catawbacountync.gov.

CALENDAR
There will be only one Board of Commissioners Meeting in March 2006 due to the Commissioners attending the NaCO Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. March 4-8, 2006.  The March Board of Commissioners Meeting will take place on Monday, March 20, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.

PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
FEBRUARY 20, 2006, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold public hearings on a) the closeout of a Community Development Block Grant which connected 28 low to moderate income households to public water, and b) the County's proposed application on behalf of all four Unifour counties for a State grant which will assist low to moderate income families in buying their first home; and consider economic development incentives for Commscope and Getrag USA, which will retain existing jobs in the county and are expected to bring 391 new jobs to Catawba County through an expansion of Getrag's facilities and the transfer of jobs from other states to Commscope facilities in the county, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 20, 2006, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room on the second floor of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.  

The Board will also consider appropriating funds that will be covered by a Federal Homeland Security Grant for the purchase and implementation of a Citizen Alert Notification System, which uses a recorded message to notify citizens by telephone of an emergency and advise them of the proper course of action; adoption of a 2006 Federal Legislative Agenda listing projects the Board will seek funding for, through the county's delegation to the US Congress; and the acceptance of three grants which will assist the County Emergency Medical Service: a North Carolina Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Grant, a State Emergency Management Preparedness Grant and an annual grant to the County from Duke Power to help fund drills and yearly training related to the McGuire Nuclear Station.

PUBLIC HEARINGS
A.  The Board will hold a public hearing on the closeout of a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Infrastructure Hook-Up Grant.  On December 20, 2004, the Board formally accepted a CDBG Infrastructure Hook-Up Grant in the amount of $75,000.  The purpose of the grant was to connect thirty low to moderate income-eligible households to existing public water lines within Catawba County.  As a result of this grant, twenty-eight homes were connected to municipal water.  A twenty-ninth project was identified, but could not be completed by the deadline specified by the State for this grant.  The County's Utilities and Engineering staff requested that the NC Division of Community Assistance (DCA) allow the County to connect more than the 30 households originally proposed in the grant because bids for the connections came in lower than anticipated, but DCA rules prohibited increasing the number of connections.  However, DCA staff did comment that Catawba County outperformed the majority of the other counties and municipalities which had been awarded similar CDBG Hook-Up grants.  Because of this ruling, the County will return $35,011.22 in CDBG grant funds to the DCA and all grant activities have been completed.  

B.  The Board will hold a public hearing on the County's proposed Unifour First Time Home Buyer Individual Development Account (IDA) Program application on behalf of all four Unifour counties.  The Unifour has received two IDA grants from the North Carolina Division of Community Assistance in the past, one in 1997 through Caldwell County and one in 2001 through Alexander County.  Both of those projects provided economic literacy training and down payment assistance to qualifying residents (those meeting federal Housing and Urban Development income eligibility guidelines) throughout the region.  This application will provide a continuation of funding for the program, to be administered by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments, which has been recognized on the State level as a leader in the affordable housing movement.  

An Individual Development Account is a dedicated savings account, similar in structure to Individual Retirement Accounts, that can only be used for purchasing a first home.  Clients deposit funds in restricted savings accounts that are held at local financial institutions. Additionally, all participants receive economic literacy training, through the Unifour HOME Consortium, that shows them how to clean up their credit, set up a budget and savings schedule, learn basic tools of money management and how to purchase and maintain a home.

The Unifour Consortium has promoted home ownership in the region since 1996.  Over 1400 families have purchased their first home as a result of the program. The IDA program has been developed to extend the reach of the Unifour Consortium, to provide assistance to families that would like to purchase a home but cannot due to barriers such as credit issues, lack of savings, or lack of knowledge of the home buying process.  Three activities of the IDA program are eligible for grant funding: housing services ($30,000 from this grant or $1000 per participant completing the training), down payment assistance ($30,000 from this grant or $1000 for each participant who completes the IDA program), and administration ($10,000 from this grant).  Grant funds in the amount of $70,000 are expected to be awarded in June 2006 and be active for 36 months. The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the project application.

CONSENT AGENDA
A.   The Board will consider the appropriation of $29,017 to implement a North Carolina Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Grant awarded to Catawba County Emergency Medical Services through the NC Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS), which will fully reimburse the County once all conditions of the grant have been met.  In 2002, the Federal government directed OEMS to create a statewide EMS needs assessment and assist in the development of Regional Disaster Response Plans.  The plans set up a number of critical benchmarks for local agencies to meet.  In fiscal year 2004-05, critical benchmarks related to hospital bed capacity, isolation capacity, pharmaceutical caches, personal protective equipment, decontamination, behavioral health, communications and information technology, emergency medical services, hospital laboratories, surveillance and patient tracking, education and preparedness training, a terrorism preparedness exercise, and State Medical Assistance Team (SMAT III) supply were addressed.   

The critical benchmarks identified for FY 2005-06 include several related to hospitals that require no action by EMS.  Each area appropriate to EMS has been addressed at the minimal level required.  EMS staff has determined that the most appropriate use for this year’s funding would be in the areas of communication and information technology; education and preparedness; and continued support of SMAT III.  Catawba County EMS was awarded the following:  1) $9517, to be used to purchase mobile data terminals for three vehicles, with GPS and mapping capabilities as well as digital wireless modems for electronic communication; 2) $12,000, for the purchase of manikins used to simulate injuries associated with nuclear, biological, and chemical attacks, trauma and small pox modules, for training purposes; and 3) $7500 for the purchase of portable radios compatible with the North Carolina Medical Communications Network, SMAT Uniforms, tent repair kit, and medications needed to replenish SMAT supplies. The Board's  Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the supplemental appropriation of these funds, in the amount of $29,017.     

B.  The Board will consider appropriating $15,078.30 resulting from State grant funding above the amount the County anticipated receiving and $11,500 above the anticipated amount from a Duke Power grant, to help cover the cost of maintaining a comprehensive emergency management program in Catawba County.   Catawba County Emergency Services receives funding each year from North Carolina Emergency Management to assist in funding the County's emergency management program.  The County anticipated receiving $20,000 from the State this year, but actually received $35,078.30.  EMS staff proposes using the additional $15,078.30 to offset the costs, including travel expenses, of mandatory training in the Incident Command Systems as required under the federal National Incident Management System in order for the County to be considered for future federal grants.  Catawba County Emergency Services also receives funding each year from Duke Power for use during drills, incidents and yearly training required because a portion of the county is in the ten-mile emergency planning zone for the McGuire Nuclear Station.  The County anticipated receiving $18,000 from Duke Power, but actually received $29,500. EMS staff proposes using the additional $11,500 to purchase six laptop computers for the County's Emergency Operations Center to replace antiquated PC workstations, provide more flexibility in the EOC due to limited space, and allow for easier relocation to an alternate EOC during an extended incident.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the appropriation as outlined above.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

A.  1.  The Board will consider an economic incentive package for CommScope, Inc, which would create 89 jobs at CommScope's Claremont and Sherrills Ford facilities over the next two years, and encourage the direction of investment by CommScope to its Catawba County facilities following the pending closure of the company's facilities in Scottsboro, Alabama and Oklahoma.  CommScope's investment would total $19,125,000 (taxable) and $8,633,000 (non-taxable) over the next two years. This investment could occur in any of the overseas facilities CommScope operates.  The new jobs and industry sector qualify as a “most favored” sector under the Western Piedmont Council Of Governments (WPCOG) Industry Targeting analysis for the recent FORESIGHT and Future Forward reports.  The Board discussed the possibility of a 5 year, 50% incentive grant in closed session on October 3, 2005 to encourage the investment in Catawba County, on the basis of the new taxable investment in building and equipment and the subsequent new tax revenues and jobs created.  Economic Development Corporation and County staff recommend the Board approve an economic grant of 50% of an amount equal to 50% of new tax revenues received over a five-year period, up to a maximum of $229,500.  The grant will be paid in installments over five years and used to reimburse company expenditures as allowed under North Carolina General Statute 158-7.1(a).  The Board would also direct County staff to execute a contract between the company and the County under these terms and conditions.

2.  The Board will consider an economic incentive package for Getrag USA which would create 302 new jobs and bring $80 million in new investment to the county.  Getrag USA currently employs approximately 375 people in its Maiden facility which produces parts for the automobile industry.  To meet production demand, Getrag proposed the purchase, upfit and renovations of the former Hooker Furniture facility in Maiden.  Hooker announced it planned to shut down that facility at the end of October 2004, resulting in the loss of 242 jobs.  Some of Getrag's expansion will take place on the company's current site, while the bulk of the expansion will take place at the former Hooker facility. The new jobs and industry sector qualify as a “most favored” sector under the WPCOG Industry Targeting analysis for the recent FORESIGHT and regional Future Forward reports.  
The State of North Carolina has committed a Job Development Investment Grant to this project which, on the basis of the projected creation of 300 jobs, should total between $3 million and $4 million.  The Town of Maiden has agreed to a grant of $1 million over five years, to be paid in installments of $200,000 per year following the payment of ad valorem taxes by the company, and to construct approximately 900-1000 feet of private roadway suitable for transfer trailer traffic as a connector between the current Getrag Plant and the former Hooker Building, along with associated drainage and related appurtenances.  EDC and County staff recommend a 5 year, 67% grant, based on the new taxable investment in building and equipment and subsequent new tax revenues and jobs created.   The Board will consider approving an economic grant as follows: upon payment of ad valorem taxes by the company to the County for the year in question the County will, within sixty days after receipt of proof of such payment, pay to the company an amount equal to 67% of the total tax revenue received by the County, up to a maximum amount of $200,000 per year, in installments over five years, and used to reimburse company expenditures as allowed under North Carolina General Statute 158-7.1(a).   The Board would also direct County staff to execute a contract between the company and the County under these terms and conditions.

EMERGENCY SERVICES
The Board will consider appropriating funds to execute a 2005 US Department of Homeland Security grant awarded to the County for the purchase and implementation of a Citizen Alert Notification System for Catawba County.  The Board will consider appropriating $145,110 which would be reimbursed through the Homeland Security grant.  Catawba County submitted a request to the State of North Carolina for grant funds to purchase a Citizens Alert Notification System that uses a recorded message to notify citizens by telephone of an emergency, and advises them on the proper course of action to be taken.  Floods in Western North Carolina in 2004 demonstrated the need for this type of system in Catawba and surrounding counties.  Catawba County EMS has an older alert notification system that had not been used until recently when County EMS was asked by the City of Claremont to participate in a drill.  EMS tested the system at that time and found that it was outdated and did not provide enough telephone lines to serve Catawba County's population.

County EMS staff plans to partner with municipalities and interested adjoining counties to install this alert notification system. The County's eight municipalities have all given their support in writing to the development of the system. The system will be housed in a Catawba County facility and be accessible to municipalities and other identified users through an internet-based format.  It would have up to 48 outgoing lines at first and, if demand is higher, lines could be added at additional cost.  The system could be used in an emergency for such purposes as notifying residents who live downstream from a dam that additional water would be released that might cause flooding; notifying the community about a search and rescue situation, similar to the national Amber Alert concept; notifying citizens in the vicinity of a manufacturing plant that a hazardous spill has occurred requiring an evacuation for their safety; giving emergency personnel across the county instructions during an emergency; and allowing school systems to notify parents of school closings due to inclement weather.  

In non-emergency situations, the system could also be used for such purposes as contacting special needs citizens to verify they are OK or to ask if they need help; notifying the public that the Health Department will be giving flu vaccines to high-risk individuals; notifying residents of community meetings; allowing local organizations to contact citizens rapidly with specific messages targeted at specific groups; notifying citizens in areas where repairs on the water system are taking place that the water system would be down for a specified time; and allowing local industries to notify shift personnel of a plant’s operating delay due to inclement conditions, etc.

Three recurring costs involved with this system are not covered by the grant funds, for data acquisition, phone line service and costs to maintain the system.  The data acquisition and phone line service costs would be incurred from telephone companies to acquire and maintain the telephone numbers in the system database.  These costs are estimated to run from $30,000 to $40,000 per year.  The system would be made available to school systems and municipalities at no cost for emergency communications.  EMS staff will create a procedure with municipal partners and any interested private-sector partners to share in the recurring costs for use in non-emergency situations.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the appropriation of $145,110 for the purchase and implementation of a Citizens Alert Notification System.

MANAGER'S REPORT
The Board will consider setting a 2006 Federal Legislative Agenda listing projects for which the Board will seek funding through the county's delegation to the US Congress.  In 2004 and 2005, the Board set Federal Legislative Agenda and worked with members of the delegation in Washington to accomplish the priorities stated within the agenda.  Federal grant funding was approved for the Hickory Metro Higher Education Center; a proposed new Highway 321 Bridge; and a proposed Regional Public Safety Training and Education Complex. and language was inserted in the Federal EPA budget that required the agency to respond to questions the County had concerning particulate matter. The proposed agenda for 2006 recommends that the County continue to pursue funding for some items that appeared on the 2004 and 2005 agenda.  

Staff recommends the Board approve a 2006 Federal Legislative Agenda that addresses the following items:
1) an expansion of the Public Health Department's Dental Clinic which would improve access to dental care for 13,000 Medicaid eligible and medically indigent children in Catawba County.; 2) the proposed Public Safety Training and Education Complex; 3) that the County continue to work with representatives to Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine particulate matter abatement strategies that can be implemented to lift the County's EPA “non-attainment” designation before any penalties are assessed to the County; 4) funding for a proposed new Regional Biosolids Processing Facility to provide state-of-the art alternative biosolids management options to the members of the Hickory Regional Sludge Consortium as well as other municipalities in Catawba County and neighboring counties, to reduce costs, improve the marketability of the Fairgrove Business Park where the present biosolids processing facility is located and take advantage of numerous synergies with existing and planned facilities in and around the Blackburn Landfill; and 5) continue to advise Federal officials of the ongoing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing of Duke Power's current license to operate 13 hydroelectric stations and 11 reservoirs on the Catawba-Wateree River and forward to them pertinent information, such as an Agreement in Principal which the Board will adopt later this year.  An application for a new license must be submitted to the FERC by August 2006.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER    465-8464