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February 7, 2005

AGENDA 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, February 7, 2005
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse
30 North College Avenue, Newton, NC 28658

THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS WILL BE MEETING PRIOR TO THE REGULAR MEETING FROM 8:00 – 9:00 A.M. FOR  DISCUSSION OF THE FORESIGHT COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS ON LEADERSHIP  AND POLITICAL ACTION,

1.    Call to Order.

2.    Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

3.    Invocation.

4.    Approval of Minutes from Regular Session of January 18, 2005 and corrected Minutes of Special Session, Tuesday, January 4, 2005.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.


7.    Presentation:
a.    Resolution presented to retired Congressman Cass Ballenger.  Presenter Katherine W. Barnes, Chair, Catawba County Board of Commissioners.
b.    Commendation presented to Sheriff’s Department Volunteer Lawrence James Neuen.  Presenter Sheriff L. David Huffman.
c.    Commendation presented to Sheriff’s Department Volunteer Arthur E. Howison.  Presenter Sheriff L. David Huffman.    
8.    Appointments.

9.    Consent agenda:
a.    Tax refund requests.
b.    Abandonment of a portion of Steam Plant Road (State Road-1847)  
c.    Landfill Contract for design and engineering of Construction & Demolition Phase 2.
10.    Departmental Reports:
a.    Agreement to acquire property of Mr. and Mrs. Chu Xiong for use with Blackburn Landfill operations.  Presenter Barry B. Edwards, P.E., Utilities & Engineering Director.   
b.    United States Department of Commerce-Economic Development Assistance Grant and Budget Revision.  Presenter Barry B. Edwards, P.E., Utilities & Engineering Director.
c.    City of Newton Water Line Extension, Gregory Wood Products Site. Presenter Barry B. Edwards, P.E. Utilities & Engineering Director.
11.    Attorneys’ Report.
a.    Real Property Exchange for Community Development Block Grant Advent Crossroads Water Project.  Presenter Robert Oren Eades, County Attorney.
12.    Manager’s Report.

13.    Other items of business.

a.    2005 Federal and State Legislative Agendas.  Presented by Joellen Daley, Assistant County Manager.
b.    Resolution in Support of Medicaid Relief for Counties.  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
The next meeting will be February 21, 2005 at 7:00 p.m.  In March there will be only one Board meeting which is scheduled for March 18, 2005 at 7:00 p.m.  The commissioners will meet at 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. on that date for environmental discussions.

PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
FEBRUARY 7, 2005,  9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

NOTE:  THE BOARD WILL HOLD A WORK SESSION, FROM 8-9 A.M. ON FEBRUARY 7 AT THE 1924 COURTHOUSE, TO DISCUSS RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE FORESIGHT STEERING COMMITTEE ON LEGISLATIVE AND POLITICAL ACTION.  THE BOARD WILL DISCUSS STATE BOARDS AND COMMITTEES AND THE PROCESS BY WHICH APPOINTMENTS ARE MADE TO THOSE GROUPS.
 
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution supporting the full phase-out of the county share of Medicaid funding required in North Carolina; consider accepting a Federal grant which will be used to meet part of the cost of constructing a sewer line and pumping station at the Gregory Wood Products facility near the Blackburn Landfill that is expected to bring up to 115 jobs to Catawba County; and select a firm for design and engineering of Phase 2 of the County's Construction and Demolition Landfill, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, February 7, 2005, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
 
The Board will also consider granting an access easement on 0.47 acres of property owned by the County to Ms. Nancy Frye Seagle in exchange for 0.33 acres of property owned by Ms. Seagle on Old Shelby Road that would be used for a pump station for the Advents Crossroads water line project; the awarding of bids for construction of a water line to serve the Gregory Wood Products site; the acquisition of property near the Blackburn Landfill that would be used to provide soil for covering of solid waste buried in the landfill; a 2005 Federal Legislative Agenda that lists programs and issues the Board will work toward in meetings with members of the United States Congress; a resolution recommending to the North Carolina Department of Transportation the abandonment of maintenance for the last 0.29 miles of Steam Plant Road, a section of the road does not provide access to any residences or properties; and two tax refunds.  The Board will honor retired Congressman Cass Ballenger for eighteen years of service to the 10th Congressional District, and two citizens who were recently honored by President Bush for volunteer work with the Catawba County Sheriff's Office.

PRESENTATIONS
A.  The Board will present a resolution recognizing 10th District Congressman T. Cass Ballenger, who recently retired after serving the citizens of Catawba County and the 10th Congressional District for eighteen years.  The resolution recognizes Congressman Ballenger as a champion of school children and education accountability, including his work on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to achieve passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001; his work on the House International Relations Committee to promote political stability in Latin America; his plans to continue his efforts toward improved education, housing and health care in these third world countries through the Ballenger Foundation after his retirement; and his work on the statewide level, prior to his service in Congress, as a member of both the North Carolina House of Representatives and Senate.

B & C.  The Board will present Certificates of Commendation to Mr. Arthur E. Howison and Mr. Lawrence  James Neuen in recognition of their being honored by President George W. Bush with the President's Volunteer Service Award for work with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office.  Mr. Howison was honored by the President for 1469 hours of volunteer service to the Sheriff's Office in the past year, while Mr. Neuen was honored for 3350 hours of volunteer service to the Sheriff's Office over the past two years.

CONSENT AGENDA
A.  The Board will consider two tax refund requests totaling $419.85.  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 resolution recommending to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) the abandonment of maintenance on the last 0.29-miles (1,531 feet) of Steam Plant Road (State Road 1847).  This section of the road does not provide access to any residences or properties.  Under North Carolina General Statute 136-63, the Board may, on its motion or through a petition of a group of citizens, request that the Board of Transportation change or abandon any secondary road when the best interest of the people of the county will be served.  NCDOT has requested a recommendation from the Board following a request from Duke Power for abandonment of maintenance of this portion of Steam Plant Road.  Duke Power has informed County staff that the request relates to the operation of a gypsum landfill needed following construction of new scrubber units designed to reduce air emissions at the Marshall Steam Station.  Staff recommends approval of the resolution.

C.  The Board will consider a contract in the amount of $139,600 with McGill Associates, PA, of Asheville and Hickory, NC for the design and engineering of Phase 2 of the County's Construction & Demolition (C&D) Landfill, and authorize an exception allowed under State law from seeking Requests for Proposals and taking bids on this service. In March 2002, construction began on Phase 1 of the C&D Landfill.  Engineering services are needed to begin the engineering, design and permitting process for Phase 2 of the C&D Landfill. Staff recommends McGill Associates, since McGill is familiar with the County’s Solid Waste Management Plan and has been instrumental in solid waste projects and planning for the County.  County staff's recommendation of McGill Associates’ familiarity and experience is based partly on the fact that they performed the engineering work on Phase 1 of the C&D Landfill with a high level of efficiency.  McGill Associates has also successfully assisted the County in previous solid waste projects and represented the County during the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources plan review and permitting process.  North Carolina General Statute 143-64.32 allows local governments to exempt themselves from advertising for bids for architectural, engineering or surveying services, provided the Board states in writing its reason for using the exemption.  The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve McGill Associates for design and engineering of the C&D Landfill, Phase 2, and authorize the exception allowed under State law from advertising for bids.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING

A.  The Board will consider the purchase of property adjacent to the Blackburn Landfill to be used to provide soil needed to cover solid waste buried in the landfill, in compliance with State law, and make landfill operations more efficient.  In November 2003, the Board approved the purchase of approximately 22 acres of a 58 acre tract at 4918 Hickory-Lincolnton Highway owned by Mr. and Mrs. Chu Xiong.  This part of the property has since been used as a soil borrow area and as part of a required buffer area.  In August 2004, Mr. Xiong inquired as to whether the County would be interested in purchasing the remainder of the 58 acre tract, 36.76 acres with a tax value of $307,500 that is currently being used as a poultry farm. 

Since Mr. Xiong operates the poultry farm and is under contract to provide poultry to a purchaser, he has asked to remain on the property until August 31, 2005.  The County's offer to purchase the property would allow Mr. Xiong to remain on the premises until August 31, 2005.  He would be entitled to remove and/or disassemble two chicken houses on the property and fencing in a pasture below the chicken houses.  The 36.76 acres would provide additional soil borrow area needed because recent purchases and transfers of land have expanded the boundaries of the landfill and increased the expected life of the landfill by twelve years.  Preliminary findings indicate the Xiong property will provide 150,000 to 200,000 cubic yards of borrow soil.  Since the property is immediately adjacent to the County’s Construction and Demolition (C&D) Landfill, the purchase will also aid the County in reducing operational costs at the C& D Landfill and soil borrow areas, by reducing travel distances, shortening the length of roads needed to haul soil, and reducing equipment operating hours.  All costs for the property acquisition will be paid from the County's Solid Waste Reserve Fund, which is derived from solid waste tipping fees rather than property tax revenue. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the proposed offer to purchase the property from Mr. and Mrs. Chu Xiong for $350,000.

B.  The Board will consider accepting a United States Department of Commerce-Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant in the amount of $697,243, which will be used to help fund construction of a sewer line and pump station at the site of the new Gregory Wood Products facility on Rocky Ford Road.  Gregory Wood Products, a division of G&G Lumber of Union Grove, NC, will operate a dimensional lumber facility on Rocky Ford Road.  The facility is expected to bring up to 115 jobs to Catawba County by the end of 2005, jobs with wages that will exceed the average manufacturing wage existing in Catawba County. 

In September 2004, the County submitted an application to the EDA requesting financial assistance in constructing approximately 18,000 linear feet of 6-inch sewer force main and a pumping station to serve the Gregory Wood Products facility.  The construction of this sewer line is part of a Joint Economic Development Agreement between the County and Gregory Wood Products through which the County agreed to provide the extension of municipal water service to the facility property line; provide sewer service to the property line; and construct a sewer pump station near the property, a sewer force main and approximately 1400 feet of public roadway to provide access to the property from Rocky Ford Road.  The EDA grant, along with a $166,217 Community Development Block Grant from the State of North Carolina and $182,426 in required local matching funds from the County's Solid Waste Fund, will be used to pay for the sewer improvements. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board accept the U. S. Department of Commerce-EDA grant.

C.  The Board will consider awarding a bid for construction of an extension of City of Newton water lines to the Gregory Wood Products site.  On December 21, 2004, the County received bids for installation of approximately 990 linear feet of 12-inch water line and 1,540 linear feet of 8-inch water line, with all necessary accessories. The County's bid proposal included an alternate bid for increasing the 8-inch diameter portion of the extension to 12-inch water line. A total of five bids were received, ranging from $77,845.50 to $140,430.20.  Neill Grading & Construction Co., Inc., of Hickory, NC is the lowest responsive bidder, with a base bid amount of $77,845.50. When Neill Grading's bid for the alternate is added, their bid totaled $90,591.50.  The County's engineering consultant, McGill Associates, PA, recommends the County construct the entire water line extension at a 12-inch diameter.  Increasing the water flow capacity will be necessary to meet long-term fire flow requirements and/or water flow capacities for any future expansion of the Gregory Wood Products facility, and maximize the water flow capacity available for any potential future industry.  On August 16, 2004, the Board accepted an N.C. Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $481,907, which requires County matching funds in the amount of $154,126.  The construction costs for this project were written into the scope of this grant when it was submitted to the North Carolina Department of Commerce and staff has confirmed that the additional cost for constructing the entire line at 12-inch diameter will be covered by the grant.  The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board award the project  to Neill Grading & Construction Co., Inc. in the amount of $90,591.50, exercising the alternate bid for 12-inch diameter water line to be installed for the entire project.

ATTORNEY'S REPORT
A.  The Board will consider a resolution authorizing a real property and easement exchange between the County and Ms. Nancy Frye Seagle for property to be used for a pump station that is part of the Advents Crossroads water line project, which will provide municipal quality water to an area where ground water supplies are contaminated. In November 2002, the County was awarded an N.C. Community Development Block Grant for installation of a water line in the Advent Crossroads area.  The project consists of approx. 18,800 linear feet of 12-inch and 8-inch diameter water line along sections of Old Shelby Road, Henry River Road, George Hildebran Road, Advent Road and Bakers Mountain Road. The project design included a pump station along Old Shelby Road and a 100,000﷓gallon ground storage tank on property owned by the County on Bakers Mountain Road.

Ms. Seagle owns property on Old Shelby Road determined to be the most suitable for the location of the pump station.  The County has negotiated with Ms. Seagle to obtain 0.33 acres of this parcel in exchange for an access easement across a portion of the Bakers Mountain Park property owned by the County.  The easement consists of a 60-foot right of way, containing approximately 0.47 acres, which will allow Ms. Seagle to access property she owns that is currently land locked.  Ms. Seagle has agreed to grant the County a conservation easement, consisting of a 50-foot buffer area, to protect Bakers Mountain Park from any adverse effects associated with any development that may occur on the Seagle property.  The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the resolution authorizing the agreement between the County and Ms. Seagle.

OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS
A.  The Board will consider adopting a 2005 Federal Legislative Agenda that lists programs and issues the Board will work toward as they meet with members of the United States Congress.  Several programs that were in the 2004 Federal Legislative Agenda are in the proposed 2005 agenda, including funding for: 1) a Public Health Dental Clinic; 2) a proposed Public Safety and Education training complex that would be used to provide public safety education and field training for agencies in the county; 3) improvements to Highway 321 from Highway 70 in Hickory north to Lenoir; and 4) a portion of a proposed new Visitor Information Center for Catawba County.

New items on the proposed Federal Legislative agenda include: 1) seeking Federal funds for a facility which could provide an alternative biosolids management option to the members of the Hickory Regional Sludge Consortium that would reduce costs, when compared with operation of the current Regional Sludge Composting Facility; improve the marketability of the Fairgrove Business Park, which is the current location of the Regional Sludge Composting Facility, and could take advantage of numerous synergies with existing and planned facilities in and around the Blackburn Landfill property; 2) working with the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and related parties to determine strategies for reducing particulate matter air pollution in Catawba County; and 3) keeping State and Federal officials apprised of the County's participation in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's relicensing of Duke Power's license to operate a chain of thirteen hydroelectric stations and eleven reservoirs on the Catawba-Wateree River chain.

A 2005 State Legislative Agenda was adopted by the Board on September 7, 2004 and outlines the Board's intent to seek relief for counties in North Carolina from the current share of Medicaid costs (note item B, below); to ask the General Assembly to grant the same local revenue options to all counties that have been granted to any one county; and to seek continued funding for the Hickory Metro Higher Education Center and increased State funding for Child Protective Services.

B.  The Board will consider approving a resolution showing the County’s support of the full phase-out of the county share of Medicaid funding currently required in North Carolina.  17,317 residents of Catawba County are now eligible to receive Medicaid assistance, 11.7% of Catawba County’s total population.  The typical Catawba County Medicaid recipient is a three year old white female child living with her mother, who has a part time job and does not receive Medicaid.  The elderly, disabled and caretakers also receive Medicaid benefits.  North Carolina is one of only two states, along with New York, that require counties to contribute to funding for Medicaid programs and administration.  In North Carolina, county funding equals 15% of the total cost of the Medicaid program.  For Catawba County, this totals $6.4 million, which equals five cents on the property tax rate, or $43 per person, per year.  Medicaid costs are expected to increase by approximately 12.5% per year.  For FY 2005-2006, that would be an additional $800,000 cost for Catawba County.  The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board adopt a resolution supporting the full phase-out of the County’s share of Medicaid funding.  Several proposals concerning Medicaid funding are expected to be introduced into the North Carolina General Assembly this year.  The proposed resolution would indicate Catawba County's need for relief, but give the County's delegation to the General Assembly the flexibility to weigh all proposals that may come forward, so long as they would result in the full phase-out of the County's share of Medicaid funding.  The County would also stress that any relief should not be connected to some other requirement, such as a trade-off of Medicaid funding for a greater share of road maintenance costs. 

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER    465-8464