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February 21, 2005

AGENDA 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, February 21, 2005, 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 Special Session, Friday, February 4, 2005, and the Regular Meeting February 7, 2005.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Public Hearing:
Proposed Financing Agreement for construction of the addition to the County Jail and renovations and expansion of C.H. Tuttle Middle School and Maiden High School.  Presented by Rodney Miller, Finance Director.
8.    Appointments.

9.    Consent agenda:
a.    Tax refund requests.

b.    Fund Request Balance from Cooksville Volunteer Fire Department.   


c.    Transfer of Capital Outlay Funds for Newton-Conover Schools.

10.    Departmental Reports:
1.    Emergency Services:
Supplemental Appropriation of Funds in the amount of $100,000 for Implementation of Homeland Security Grant #1510 538-5.  Presenter David Weldon, Emergency Services Director.
2.   Utilities and Engineering:
Edgewater Subdivision Waterline Extension Cost Share Request.  Presenter Barry Edwards, P.E., Utilities & Engineering Director.
3.    Finance:
Introduction of Bond Order Authorizing $17,500,000 General Obligation Refunding Bonds. Presenter Rodney N. Miller, Finance Director
11.    Attorneys’ Report.

12.    Manager’s Report.

13.    Other items of business.

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 meeting in March due to the Board members’ attendance at the NaCO Conference scheduled from March 4-7, 2005.  The Board of Commissioners meeting will be on March 21, 2005 7:00 p.m. with Environmental Discussions by the Commissioners preceding the meeting from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.


PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2005, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on proposed installment financing on no more than $22,325,000, for expansion of the County jail to address overcrowded conditions, for the proposed conversion of Tuttle Middle School to an elementary school, and for renovations of the existing Maiden High School to convert it to a middle school; consider a resolution authorizing the filing of an application with the North Carolina Local Government Commission for the refinancing of $17.5 million of existing County debt from school bond issues of 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2000, which is expected to result in the savings of $500,000 to the County over the next ten years through reduced interest rates; and consider appropriating $100,000, which would be reimbursed from a Federal Homeland Security Grant, to meet costs of conducting a Regional Bioterrorism Response Drill in Catawba County scheduled for March 5, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 21, 2005, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton. 

The Board will also consider a request to share in the costs of extending a water line, which is already a part of future County plans, to serve a new development off Little Mountain Road, with the County's costs to be repaid in just under six years; a request from the Newton-Conover Board of Education to transfer funds already appropriated to that system to fund three projects which ended over budget; a request from the Cooksville Fire Department for appropriation of a portion of the department's fund balance for the purchase of a new pumper truck; and a set of tax refunds.

PUBLIC HEARINGS
The Board will hold a public hearing on proposed installment financing for expansion of the County’s existing jail facility and to renovate existing public school facilities.  Following the public hearing, the Board will consider a resolution making certain findings and determinations regarding these projects and requesting that the Local Government Commission (LGC), a division of the North Carolina Treasurer's Office, approve the financing arrangement.  In the County's FY 2003-04 budget, the Board began dedicating ½ cent of the tax rate annually to pay debt service on an expansion of the County’s jail facility, which has experienced severe overcrowding over the last several years. The County is presently housing an average of over 50 prisoners more than the 89-bed capacity of the facility, per day.  A study of the future prison population has indicated the County will need 376 beds by the year 2025.  The expansion will relieve overcrowding by adding an additional 176 beds and approximately 75,000 square feet, at an estimated cost of $18 million.  The funds from this ½ cent, along with funds for a proposed expansion to the Government Center that the County has decided not to move forward on at this time, will generate enough revenue to pay the debt service through FY 2006-07. 

In the FY 2003-04 budget, the Board also began dedicating two cents of the tax rate annually as an investment in education.  With the funds generated, a construction schedule over a four-year revaluation cycle was created.  The first phase included construction of a new middle school for the Hickory City School system.  The second phase included a new Maiden High School for the Catawba County School system and a learning resource and technology center for Catawba Valley Community College.  All three of these projects have begun. 

The third phase includes renovations to existing school facilities and is the phase included in this proposed financing. With the addition of a new Maiden High School, the Catawba County School System plans to convert the existing Maiden High building into a middle school, adding 2,938 additional square feet and capacity for 575 students, and convert the existing Tuttle Middle School to an elementary school, adding an additional 21,385 square feet and capacity for 600 students.  The estimated costs for these two projects are $3.7 million, with the County financing $2.6 million. The balance of $1.1 million will come from the Catawba County School system. The final phase of the construction cycle would be for a new Catawba County elementary school, projected for early 2006.

All local governments in North Carolina that borrow funds greater than $500,000, or for longer than five years to maturity, must receive approval from the Local Government Commission. If approved by the Board of Commissioners, the LGC will consider these projects at its April 5, 2005 meeting.

CONSENT AGENDA
A.  The Board will consider five tax refund requests totaling $25,333.17.  Records have been checked and these refunds verified, so the Tax Collector recommends approval.  Under N.C. 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.

B.  The Board will consider a request from the Cooksville Fire Department for $75,000 from the department's fund balance, for a new pumper truck.  In September 2004, the Cooksville Fire Department experienced problems with its 1971 American LaFrance pumper truck when it failed to pass required annual service testing. After the truck was evaluated by a service technician, it was determined that a complete pump rebuild was necessary at a cost in excess of $10,000. The Cooksville Fire Department Board of Directors discussed this situation and, coupled with the age of the pumper and problems finding parts for a truck of this age, felt the department should proceed with replacement of this truck, already scheduled for fiscal year 2004-05.  After extensive research, the department ordered a new Pierce Contender pumper, originally scheduled for delivery in July or August 2005.  In December 2004, the vendor informed the department that the delivery date had been moved up to April 2005.  Due to the new delivery date, the fire department is requesting the fund balance be released now, instead of as part of the department's request for the fiscal year 2005-06 Catawba County budget.  The County traditionally reserves 10% of a department's available fund balance in case of unforeseen emergencies.  As of February 1, 2005, the department's available fund balance was $83,429.  After the appropriation, $8429 would remain in the department's fund balance.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the request.

C.  The Board will consider a request from the Newton-Conover Board of Education to transfer $40,555, already budgeted for the Newton-Conover City Schools, from two completed projects to complete three other projects that have exceeded original budget amounts. The three projects are as follows: 1) In fiscal year 2003-2004, $60,000 was approved to paint and make repairs to the exterior of the Newton-Conover Schools central office building.  In June 2004, the Board of Commissioners approved the transfer of an additional $26,240 to this project in order to replace gutters at the central office, but the final cost was $30,000 over budget due to extensive termite damage discovered during repairs; 2) in the current fiscal year, $170,000 was approved for a parking lot project at Shuford Elementary School, and the final cost was $10,535 over budget due to the need to re-route power and water lines; and 3) $88,000 was approved in the current fiscal year to replace the gym floor at Newton-Conover Middle School.  While the floor was being replaced, the bleachers, which were in poor condition, were replaced at a cost of $8,259.  The Newton-Conover City Schools identified $8,239 from within the system's budget that could be used on these projects.  In order to cover the balance of $40,555 needed on the projects, the Newton-Conover City Schools is requesting a transfer from two completed projects at Newton-Conover High School.  A balance of  $34,155 remains in a project to replace the chiller at the high school, and $6,400 remains in a project to replace structural columns at the high school.   The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the transfer of $40,555 from two completed projects in order to complete the three projects that have exceeded budget.
   
DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

EMERGENCY SERVICES

The Board will consider appropriating $100,000, which will be reimbursed from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant, for the development and conduct of a regional, multi-county, Weapons of Mass Destruction terrorism training exercise.  The North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety's Division of Emergency Management and the County will enter into a Memorandum of Agreement to develop and conduct a regional, multi-county, terrorism training exercise.  Catawba County will be the lead county in the exercise and will host the exercise, scheduled for Saturday, March 5, 2005.  Several adjacent counties plan to participate, including Alexander, Burke, and Caldwell counties. The drill is a continuation of a tabletop planning exercise conducted in March 2004.  This is the first regional exercise in the State of North Carolina utilizing Federal Bioterrorism funds.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the appropriation of $100,000 for the exercise, and authorize Board Chair Kitty Barnes to sign the Memorandum of Agreement between the State and the County.

UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
The Board will consider a water line extension, with 50% participation in the costs by the County to be repaid in just under six years.  Mr. Jeffery Cernuto, Managing Partner for Greenbay Forest, LLC, is requesting that the County share in the cost of extending water lines along existing State- maintained roads, to serve a 22 lot subdivision he plans to develop in the Terrell/Sherrills Ford area, on Barbrick Street and Static Way off Little Mountain Road. The proposed extension will consist of approximately 4,200 linear feet of 12-inch, 8-inch, and 2-inch waterlines.  The estimated cost of the water line extension is $100,000.  This proposed extension will also serve 17 existing lots on Barbrick Street and 6 existing lots on Little Mountain Road. 

Based on the estimated cost of $100,000, with the developer's share of the cost being $50,000, and anticipated capital fees from the project of $19,500, the County's actual investment in the extension will be $30,500.  An analysis that factored in a projected annual revenue of $4,203 from monthly user fees indicates the $30,500 would be paid back to the County in just under 6 years (5.9 years).  The 12-inch portion of the installation along Little Mountain Road is also in line with long range plans for a 12-inch internal system loop along Little Mountain Road and Mt. Pleasant Road, which will provide improved fire protection to the area.  Staff recommended this project on the merits of the pay back period and the project’s alignment with the County’s long range plans for the Southeastern Catawba County Water Service Area. The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the water line extension as outlined, including County participation in 50% of the costs, and an attached budget revision in the amount of $100,000 to fund the entire project.

FINANCE
The Board will consider a resolution authorizing the filing of an application with the Local Government Commission and appointing bond counsel and a financial advisor in connection with a proposed issuance of General Obligation Refunding Bonds.  The Board will consider introducing a bond order authorizing the issuance of up to $17,500,000 in 2005 General Obligation (G.O.) Refunding Bonds.  Local governments in North Carolina are allowed to refinance existing General Obligation debt to take advantage of lower interest rates, subject to certain restrictions.  One of those restrictions is that the Local Government Commission requires net present value savings of at least 3.0% in order to begin the refinancing process.  Preliminary analysis shows the County’s 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2000 G.O. Bonds could be refinanced at current interest rates to achieve greater than 3% net present value savings, amounting to $500,000 over the next ten years.  That amount will fluctuate as interest rates change between now and the sale date.  Catawba County last refinanced G.O. debt in December 2002, resulting in interest savings of approximately $750,000 over twelve years.  The Board will consider calling for a public hearing on the proposed refunding bonds, to be held at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, March 21, 2005, at the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER    465-8464