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March 20, 2006

AGENDA 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, March 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 Meeting of February 20, 2006.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentation:
a.    Presentation of the John H. Cover Life Saving medal and Catawba County Distinguished Public Service Award to Deputy Dennis W. Smith.  Presented by Sheriff L. David Huffman.
8.    Public Hearings:
a.    Request to rezone a .8 acre portion of a larger 60 acre parcel from R-2 Residential District to C2 Commercial District.  Presented by Jacky Eubanks, Planning Director.

b.    Second Public Hearing for the CDBG Scattered Site Housing Second Public Hearing.  Presented by Jacky Eubanks, Planning Director.
9.    Appointments.

10.  Consent Agenda:
a.    Resolution to approve financing by Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire/Rescue for purchase of two fire trucks.

b.    Approval to submit grant for Criminal Justice Partnership Program.


c.    CVCC request for transfer of Capital Funds.


d.    Tax refund requests.


e.    Request by North Carolina Department of Transportation to waive preliminary  Board approval of petitions for road additions.


11.  Departmental Reports.
a.  Public Health:

1. Energy Conservation Policy for Public Facilities.  Presented by Doug Urland, Public Health Director.


2.    Pandemic Flu Presentation.  Presented by Doug Urland, Public Health Director and David Weldon, Emergency Services Director.


b.   Finance:


Catawba Elementary School Financing.  Presented by Rodney Miller, Finance Director

12.  Other items of business.
   
13.  Attorneys’ Report.
   
14.  Manager’s Report.

15.  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 April Board of Commissioners meetings will take place on Monday, April 3, 2006 at 9:30 a.m. and on Monday, April 17, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.

PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MARCH 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) a request to rezone a 0.8 acre portion of a 60 acre parcel located off Startown Road at the Catawba-Lincoln County line from R-2 Residential to C-2 Commercial, and b) on the County's application for a 2006 Scattered Site Housing grant from the State; and will hear a presentation on the concerns about a flu pandemic and the actions and plans the Catawba County Health Department and County Emergency Services are taking in view of these concerns, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 20, 2006, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room on the second floor of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton. 

The Board will also consider calling for a public hearing on March 27, 2006, immediately following Board subcommittee meetings that begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Government Center in Newton, on the proposed financing of a new Catawba Elementary School; approving an Energy Conservation Policy for Public Facilities; a request from the North Carolina Department of Transportation for a letter formally documenting a procedure in place since 1982 that the Board waive approval of petitions for road additions, allowing a petitioner to send a request directly to the NC Division of Highways; a resolution supporting Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire/Rescue's agreement for financing of up to $1,050,000 for purchase of a new pumper truck and a new ladder truck, which will not obligate any County funds but will allow the department to obtain a lower interest rate; an application for a State grant to be used for operation of the Catawba County Criminal Justice Partnership Program; a request for a transfer of funds in the budget for Catawba Valley Community College to allow the college to replace an aging and poorly operating van; and tax refund requests.   The Board will also assist in the presentation of the John H. Cover Life Saving Medal, presented by Taser International, Inc. to law enforcement officers who successfully use non-lethal weapons to bring a potentially life-threatening situation to a safe conclusion, to Sheriff's Deputy Dennis W. Smith, who safely disarmed a suspect threatening him and other officers with an axe last November.  

PRESENTATIONS
The Board will assist in the presentation of the John H. Cover Life Saving Medal to Sheriff's Deputy Dennis W. Smith and present Deputy Smith with a Distinguished Public Service Award.  The medal is presented by Taser International, Inc. to law enforcement officers who use non-lethal methods to safely end a potentially life-threatening situation involving a criminal suspect. On November 6, 2005, Deputy Smith was confronted by a suspect with an axe.  When the suspect failed to comply with Deputy Smith’s command to drop the weapon, Deputy Smith deployed a taser.  This incapacitated the suspect and allowed a second officer to safely take the suspect into custody.  The commendations salute Deputy Smith’s act of defending his life, and the life of the other officer with him, with a non-lethal weapon. 

PUBLIC HEARINGS
A.  The Board will hold a public hearing on a request of Mr. Ronald Parker to rezone a 0.8 acre portion of a larger 60 acre parcel, located off Startown Road at the Catawba-Lincoln County line, from R-2 Residential to C-2 Commercial zoning.  If the request is approved, the applicant will seek to combine this 0.8 acre portion with an adjoining 2.89 acre parcel to accommodate a commercial structure.  The intent of the C-1 Commercial District is to provide land for convenience shops, specialty retail goods and businesses, and personal services to the traveling public and the residents of neighborhoods. The adjacent property to the north is zoned C-2 Commercial and developed with mini-storage units.  Other property to the north is zoned R-2 Residential, with some housing.  Properties to the east and south are in Lincoln County.  One house is located approximately a quarter mile to the south.  The property to the west is owned by the applicant and is undeveloped.

Startown Road is designated as a major collector road on the Catawba County Thoroughfare Plan of 1991.  Major collector roads provide service to larger towns not directly served by the higher systems.   The Startown Small Area Plan serves as the current land use plan for this area.  It shows the subject properties and the surrounding properties as remaining R-2 Residential to support single-family development.  Staff supports this request, however, because a rezoning of this 0.8 acre portion of land to C-2 Commercial merely expands an existing established commercial district as opposed to creating a new district.  Due to the configuration of these parcels adjacent to the Lincoln County line, they serve no practical use as residential. On February 13, 2006, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners approved a similar request to rezone a 0.6 acre portion of land, directly abutting the subject property, to a commercial district.   The Catawba County Planning Board conducted a public hearing on February 27, 2006.  No one spoke in support or opposition to this request and the Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend the Board of Commissioners approve this request.

B.  The Board will hold a required second public hearing to receive citizen input on the development of Community Development Block Grant Scattered Site Housing grant applications for fiscal year 2006-2007.  Funds from this program may be used for neighborhood revitalization, and housing development and rehabilitation.   The Board held a first public hearing on this proposed application at its September 19, 2005 meeting.

CONSENT AGENDA
A.   The Board will consider adopting a resolution in support of Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire/Rescue obtaining financing of up to $1,050,000 for the purchase of an equipped 2006 Pierce 1500 gallon-per-minute pumper and an equipped 2006 Dash 105-foot ladder truck.  This action would not obligate any County funding, but will allow the department to obtain a better interest rate for the financing.  This request is a part of Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire/Rescue's long-range plan for additional equipment at its new fire station, currently under construction.  These trucks are necessary to fully compliment the fire protection needs of this fast growing area, both to improve protection and response and meet the recommendations of the North Carolina Rating Response System. The department held a public meeting on Friday, March 17, 2006 in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code.  This resolution will allow the fire department to obtain an interest rate of 4.23% for the financing, through  a ten year loan.  Current interest rates prior to the adoption of the resolution have been around 5.5 %.  The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board adopt the resolution supporting Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire/Rescue's obtaining the tax-exempt financing of up to $1,050,000, as required by the Internal Revenue Code.

B.  The Board will consider approving the submission of an application for a State grant for funding of the Catawba County Criminal Justice Partnership Program (CJPP).  The County Criminal Justice Partnership Board is charged with administering a grant from the State for the program.  The grant for the current fiscal year totaled $111,512.  The proposed application would be for the same amount for fiscal year 2006-2007..  The grant will provide funds to serve approximately 90-100 people.

The CJPP provides an effective bridge between the criminal justice system and community agencies for intermediate sanction offenders on supervised probation who are at risk of re-incarceration.  Through a detailed needs assessment, appropriate referrals, treatment services for substance abuse and cognitive skills and transportation when needed, the program seeks to combine the influence of community based legal sanctions and non-incarceration punishments with structured services in the community.  By providing treatment services appropriate to the offender's needs, the program seeks to address issues that maintain a criminal lifestyle for offenders.  It provides services designed to decrease criminal involvement and increase productive, socially acceptable behaviors.  Since July 1, 2005, seventeen participants successfully completed the program, were diverted from jail, and have increased their odds against going back to prison. Other participants are continuing in the program, while six have been re-incarcerated.  The program’s successful completion rate of 46% exceeds the statewide average rate of 30%.  The CJPP Board met on February 24, 2006 and approved the grant application.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the submission of the grant application.

C.  The Board will consider a request from Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) to transfer $14,487.68 from funds remaining in completed capital projects to replace the college’s courier van.  Funds have been requested in CVCC’s capital outlay budget for Fiscal Year 2006-07 for the replacement of the van, which is fourteen years old and has been driven for over 135,000 miles.  The transmission has now gone out on the van and it is in immediate need of replacement.  CVCC would need $18,000 to replace the van.  There is $3,512.32 remaining in a completed vehicle replacement project from prior years.  The college is requesting that the balance of $14,487.68 be transferred from three other completed capital projects so it can replace the van in the current fiscal year.  The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the request.

D. The Board will consider five tax refund requests totaling $86,984.92.  This amount includes an adjustment to the tax values for Draka Comteq Americas Inc. of Claremont, NC for 2005 in the amount of $83,786.68, following an appeal to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission.  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.

E.  The Board will consider a request from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) for a letter specifying in writing the common practice since 1982 that the Board waive approval for petitions for road additions.  This would allow a petitioner to send a request directly to the NC Division of Highways and eliminate the need to seek approval from the Board of Commissioners on these petitions.  Petitions for road abandonment would still come before the Board of Commissioners.  NCDOT has advised staff that this procedure has been common practice since 1982, but NCDOT has been asked by the State to provide documentation which supported this procedure.  NCDOT has requested such documentation from all North Carolina counties but has found that few counties required formal Board action to adopt the policy in 1982 so there are no minutes available to confirm policy adoption.  A review of the minutes of the Catawba County Board of Commissioners shows no formal action taken by the Board.  However,  reference was made in the index of the minutes to the DOT’s request to the County of January 26, 1982 and the County’s agreement to waive preliminary approval of these petitions (except for abandonment), effective March 1, 1982. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board authorize its Chair to sign a letter to the North Carolina Department of Transportation waiving Board approval for petitions for road additions, with a specific exception to this policy for road abandonment.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

PUBLIC HEALTH

A.  The Board will consider adopting an Energy Conservation Policy for Public Facilities.  On April 15, 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency designated Catawba County and the Unifour as being in violation of federal air quality standards for ozone.  In an effort to address this serious issue and the health and potential economic concerns related to it, the Unifour's local governments adopted an Early Action Compact (EAC), which included a “toolbox” to assist the region in devising a plan to address ozone pollution through local activities and policy changes.  One component of the EAC is the implementation of an Energy Conservation Policy.  Energy efficiency, defined as delivering the same (or more) services with less energy, reduces the amount of energy which must be generated at power plants, reducing emissions and improving air quality.  Steps the County takes to increase energy efficiency also assist in saving money.  According to the US Department of Energy, energy efficient solutions can reduce energy costs by up to 20 to 30 percent.

Ozone levels across the Unifour have decreased and this trend is continuing.  Unfortunately, the area's particulate matter (PM2.5) averages are increasing.  However, the adoption of this policy provides the County with the opportunity to conserve energy and improve air quality, while leading the community by example.   The policy calls for the County to employ energy conservation practices in the design, construction, operation, maintenance, and renovation of Catawba County facilities and in the purchase, operation, and maintenance of equipment for Catawba County facilities.  It also calls for a "life-cycle costs analysis" to be performed at existing County facilities to better determine the energy efficiency of those facilities, and instructs the County's Finance and Maintenance Departments to identify and recommend maintenance and operating procedures designed to reduce energy consumption within facilities with no significant expenditure of funds. The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board adopt the proposed Energy Conservation Policy for Public Facilities.

B.  The Board will hear a report from the County's Public Health Director, Doug Urland, and Emergency Services Director, David Weldon, on the ongoing global concerns about a flu pandemic and on the actions and plans these departments are taking in view of these concerns.

FINANCE
The Board will consider adopting a resolution calling for a public hearing, to be held on March 27, 2006 at 8:30 a.m. in the second floor meeting room of the Government Center in Newton, to receive public comment regarding proposed financing in the amount of $9.2 million for a new Catawba Elementary School.

In fiscal year 2003-04, the Board set aside two cents of the property tax rate to be used for financing school construction over a four-year period.  Four projects have been completed and/or are under construction with those funds: a new Grandview Middle School, a new Maiden High School, a new Learning Library and Technology Center at CVCC and the conversion of Tuttle Middle School to an elementary school. These projects were identified by a Citizens’ Advisory Committee formed in 2001 and were included in the first half of an eight-year school construction and improvement plan presented to the Board in 2002. The Catawba Elementary School project is the final project in the first four-year cycle.  At its January 17, 2006 meeting, the Board authorized the Catawba County Board of Education to proceed with bids for the new school.  Bids were received in February at a total cost of $9.9 million.  Almost $700,000 in funds have been secured, leaving a balance of $9.2 million to be financed.  

The County will pursue financing under North Carolina General Statute 160A-20, which pledges the asset acquired or constructed as collateral for the loan in case of default.  Since the County does not own the land upon which the elementary school will be built, the Catawba County Board of Education must convey the land to the County in order for the County to borrow the funds for the new school. The County will, in turn, lease the new school and land back to the Catawba County Board of Education for its use, and at the end of the financing term, transfer all rights to the property back to the school system.

All local governments in North Carolina that borrow funds greater than $500,000 and for a period longer than five years to maturity must receive approval by the Local Government Commission (LGC), a division of the NC Department of State Treasurer. The LGC meets again on April 4, 2006 in Raleigh.  Staff recommends the Board adopt a resolution calling for a public hearing, on March 27, 2006 following the Board's subcommittee meetings beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the second floor meeting room of the Government Center in Newton, to receive public comment on proposed installment purchase financing for construction of a new Catawba Elementary School.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER    465-8464