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March 21, 2005

AGENDA 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, March 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, Wednesday, March 2, 2005, and the Regular Meeting of February 21, 2005.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentations:
a.    Distinguished Public Service Awards to Red Cross Volunteers Al King and Karyn L. Yaussy.  Presented by County Commissioner Lynn M. Lail.

b.    Distinguished Public Service Awards to Catawba County Sheriff Deputies Michael Bumgarner and Donald Houston.  Presented by Catawba County Sheriff L. David Huffman.

c.  Certificate of Commendation to Catawba County Employee Michael Howard for Military Service.  Presented by Chair Katherine W. Barnes.
8.    Public Hearing:
a.    Proposed $17,500,000 General Obligation Refunding Bonds.  Presented by Rodney Miller, Finance Director.

b.    FY 2005-2006 Catawba County Rural Operating Assistance Program Grant Application.  Presented by Cynthia McGinnis, Transit Manager, Piedmont Wagon Transit System (PWTS).
9.    Appointments.

10.    Consent agenda:
a.    Request for approval to submit grant for Criminal Justice Partnership Program.

b.    Request to accept $25,539.00 from the Federal Grant – Help America Vote Act.

c.    Request for supplemental appropriation for EMPG Supplemental Grant Award and supplemental appropriation for Duke Power McGuire Allocation.

d.    Request to respond to Newton-Conover City School’s offer to sell surplus real property to Catawba County.

e.    Request for approval to amend Personnel Code regarding Holiday Benefit.

f.    Revision to Board of Commissioner Subcommittee schedule.
11.    Departmental Reports:
1.    Finance:
Resolution authorizing the execution and delivery of an installment financing agreement, deed of trust and related documents in connection with the construction of an addition to the jail facility and renovation of existing public school facilities.  Presenter Rodney N. Miller, Finance Director.
2.    Emergency Services:
a.    Supplemental Appropriation for Implementation of  FY 2004 Homeland Security Grant Program #2004-GE-T4-0014.  Presenter David Weldon, Emergency Services Director.

b.    Request for approval of increase for Rabies Clinic Vaccination Fee.  Presenter David Weldon, Emergency Services Director.
3.   Budget:

      Request for appropriation of funds for Newton-Conover City Schools.     Presenter Dr.William R. Crawford,              Superintendent Newton-Conover City Schools and Judy Ikerd, Budget Manager.
4.    Sheriff’s Department:
a.    Request for allocation of Civil Process Fees.  Presenter L. David Huffman, Catawba County Sheriff.

b.    Request for approval of a Justice Assistance Grant.  Presenter L. David Huffman, Catawba County Sheriff.
12.    Attorneys’ Report.

13.    Manager’s Report.

14.    Other items of business.

15.    Adjournment.


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

THE BOARD WILL ALSO MEET FROM 3 UNTIL 6 PM, IN THE SECOND FLOOR MEETING ROOM OF THE GOVERNMENT CENTER IN NEWTON, FOR A SPECIAL WORK SESSION ON THE FORESIGHT COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE ENVIRONMENT.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold  public hearings on 1) the proposed refinancing of $17.5 million of existing County debt which is expected to result in the savings of up to $500,000 to the County over the next ten years through reduced interest rates, and 2) the County's proposed application for Rural Operating Assistance Grant funds for programs of the Piedmont Wagon transit system; consider an increase in fees for the County's annual rabies vaccination clinics from $5 to $7 per vaccine to fully recover costs incurred by veterinarians who administer the vaccinations; and consider an appropriation of funds to the Newton-Conover City School system for renovations to a building on the Newton-Conover High School campus which would be used for a proposed Health Science and Language Academy, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 21, 2005, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.  

The Board will also consider implementation of a federal Homeland Security grant to improve radio communications among various response agencies, enhance security at government buildings and upgrade a Mobile Command Post; a resolution authorizing an installment financing agreement, a deed of trust and related documents in connection with the construction of an addition to the County’s existing jail facility, and renovations to convert the existing Maiden High School to a middle school and the existing Tuttle Middle School to an elementary school; the use of funds, obtained through an increase in civil process fees, to fund two staff positions to create and serve civil papers and for equipment needed by the Sheriff's Office Civil Division; approval of a County application for a State grant for the Criminal Justice Partnership program; acceptance of a grant from the Help America Vote Act to upgrade technology in the Board of Elections Office; acceptance of a State grant to purchase an internet-based weather monitoring system to be used during incident and disaster response and to pay costs for part-time wages needed to cover Emergency Services staff who are training, on vacation or sick; an application for a Federal Justice Assistance Grant to fund several equipment needs for both the Catawba County Sheriff's Office and the Hickory Police Department; a change in the language of the County's Personnel Code to make it clear that employees required to work on County holidays will be paid for that work on "straight time", except in situations where an employee works more than 40 hours in a given week; whether to reject a right of first refusal to purchase a small piece of property offered by the Newton-Conover Board of Education, as required by State law, so the board of education may sell the property; and the cancellation of scheduled subcommittee meetings in preparation for the Board's July 11, 2005 meeting, which would have conflicted with the July 4th holiday.  

The Board will also issue Distinguished Public Service Awards to Sheriff's Deputies Michael Bumgarner and Donald Houston, who recently rescued two persons from a house fire; to Red Cross volunteers Al King and Karyn Yaussy in recognition of their receiving the Dr. Harry M. Matthews Disaster Services Award for their  many years of volunteer service; and present a Certificate of Commendation to EMT Paramedic Michael Howard in recognition of his military service as a medic in Iraq.

PRESENTATIONS

A.  The Board will present Distinguished Public Service Awards to American Red Cross volunteers Al King and Karyn Yaussy, for their volunteer services to the Red Cross during disasters across the state.  Both Mr. King and Ms. Yaussy recently received the Dr. Harry M. Matthews Disaster Services Award in recognition of  volunteer service with the local Red Cross chapter and across the state. The Board's commendation is in tribute to their sustained commitment to civic participation as Red Cross volunteers.  

B.  The Board will present Distinguished Public Service Awards to Catawba County Sheriff's Deputies Michael Bumgarner and Donald Houston for their selfless and heroic actions in rescuing two persons from a house fire on February 16, 2005.  Both deputies were among those called to the fire on Trout Pond Road.  Deputy Bumgarner placed his concern for the safety of others ahead of his own and entered the smoke-filled residence to locate any occupants.  His search revealed a three year old boy in a back bedroom and he carried this child to safety.  He later re-entered the residence, located the fire source and removed it to prevent further damage to the home.  Deputy Houston also placed his concern for the safety of others ahead of his own when he was told a family pet remained in the residence. He also entered the home to locate the animal and, although the animal ran from his rescue attempt, his search revealed a 45 year-old female occupant, whom he carried to safety.  

C.  The Board will present a Certificate of Commendation to EMT Paramedic Michael Howard in recognition of his honorable military service in Iraq.  He served as a combat medic with the 30th Brigade, Troop E, 196th Cavalry of the North Carolina Army National Guard.  Mr. Howard served a tour of duty in Iraq from February through December 2004.  He was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Army Force Reserve Service Medal.  During his tour of duty in Iraq, he also missed being present for the birth of his son, Michael Justin Howard, born on September 16, 2004.

PUBLIC HEARINGS
A.  The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed refinancing of up to $17,500,000 of County debt through 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 North Carolina Local Government Commission requires net present value savings of at least 3% in order to begin the refinancing process.  Catawba County last refinanced G.O. debt in December 2002, resulting in interest savings of approximately $750,000 over twelve years.  As of the Board's February 21, 2005 meeting, preliminary analysis showed the County’s 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2000 G.O. Bonds could be refinanced at interest rates then in effect to achieve greater than 3% net present value savings, amounting to $500,000 saved over the next ten years.  Interest rates have since increased, however, and the County would not currently achieve the required 3% net present value savings.  Staff has recommended the public hearing be held and that the Board proceed with plans for sale of the re-financing bonds, in case interest rates move sufficiently to again give the County the 3% savings by the time the bonds are sold in late April.  If interest rates have not moved at that time, the County will have the authority to issue the refunding bonds for seven years, if market conditions improve at any point within that time period.  

B.  The Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed application for a fiscal year 2005-2006 Rural Operating Assistance Program (ROAP) Grant.  This grant is available annually from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. It includes an Elderly and Disabled Transportation Assistance Program (EDTAP), Work First Transitional/Employment Transportation Assistance Program and Rural General Public Program (RGP).  These funds are made available to counties through a formula allocation.  The 2005-2006 ROAP allocation to Catawba County will be $151,651 (approximately 15% above last year’s allocations). This money will fund the programs as follows: EDTAP ($73,499), Work First ($12,049) and Rural General Public ($66,103). The EDTAP and Work First funding will be provided with 100% State funds and requires no local match. The RGP programs are funded at 90% of the fully allocated costs of each general public trip, with a required 10% match which is covered by existing County allocations to the Piedmont Wagon Transit System.
 
CONSENT AGENDA
A.  The Board will consider a County application for a State grant to fund the Criminal Justice Partnership Program (CJPP).  The current year’s grant was in the amount of $112,401, and the proposed application for next year is for the same amount.  The CJPP provides an effective bridge between the criminal justice system and community agencies for offenders on supervised probation who are at risk of incarceration.  Through detailed needs assessment, referrals, treatment services for substance abuse and cognitive skills, and transportation as needed, the program seeks to provide services that will decrease criminal involvement among these offenders and increase productive, socially acceptable behaviors.  The grant will provide funds to serve approximately 90 – 100 people. The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the grant application.

B.  The Board will consider accepting a grant in the amount of $25,539 from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).  The Catawba County  Board of Elections has received a technology grant from HAVA which may only be used to upgrade technology in the Board of Elections office.  These grant funds would be used to purchase notebook computers, printers, a fax machine and a scanner. The computers and printers would be used at the County's two one-stop voting sites in future elections, to replace aging equipment.  The scanner would be used now that the State's voter registration system has the ability to accept scanned-in voter registration cards and other election documents, which will save time in the data entry process and give the Board of Elections staff the ability to start the scanning process earlier than anticipated.  The fax machine is needed to replace an aging machine in the Board of Elections office that has had problems.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the acceptance of the grant.

C.  The Board will consider appropriating funds in the amount of $16,548.78 from a grant from the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, and the appropriation of $3500 from a grant from Duke Power for emergency preparedness related to the McGuire Nuclear Station.  The Catawba County Department of Emergency Services receives funding each year from the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management and proposes to spend the latest grant funds as follows: $8,000 to purchase a web-based weather monitoring system to be used by Emergency Services and Communications Center personnel during incidents and disasters; $2,000 to pay part-time wages as needed to cover full-time emergency management staff who are away for training, vacations, sickness, etc.; and $6,548.78 for temporary wages to assist in the final implementation of the County Emergency Operations Plan.  Catawba County Emergency Services also receives funding each year from Duke Power for use during drills and yearly training related to responses to any incidents that may occur at the McGuire Nuclear Station.  Duke Power previously approved a grant the County used to upgrade a Mobile Command Post's wireless data infrastructure to improve interoperability between the County's Emergency Operations Center and other agencies at the scene of an incident.  During the budget process, staff estimated $18,000 for these expenditures, but the actual allocation from Duke Power was $21,500, which represents the additional $3500.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve these appropriations.  

D.  The Board will consider an offer from the Newton-Conover City Schools to sell surplus real property to Catawba County.  At its February 8, 2005 meeting, the Newton-Conover Board of Education decided a 0.25 acre tract of land adjoining Newton-Conover Middle School was no longer suitable or necessary for public school purposes.  Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 115C-518, the Board of Education has offered the Board of Commissioners the first opportunity to obtain this property at fair market value or a negotiated price. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends that, due to the size and location of the property, the County reject the offer, allowing the Newton-Conover Board of Education to pursue the sale of the tract.

E.  The Board will consider amending Sections 28-156, 28-197 and 28-205 of the County Personnel Code to clarify holiday benefits.  The code addresses County compliance with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which specifically addresses which employees are deemed non-exempt and how these employees are compensated when they work more than the federal standard work hours in an established time frame.  Holidays are a benefit and not covered by FLSA but the Code addresses holidays in the FLSA section in order to address compensation related to hours worked by employees on a holiday observed by the County.  The proposed changes to the code would make it clear that employees required to work on County holidays will be paid for that work on "straight time" except in situations where an employee works more than 40 hours in a given week.  Other code revisions would specify that employees should indicate their holiday time for payroll processing and show their use of annual leave as a separate matter, and clarifies the way in which floating holidays are granted.  

F.  The Board will consider canceling board subcommittee sessions prior for its July 11, 2005 meeting.  Those subcommittee sessions would normally have been held on Monday, July 4, which is a County holiday.  The four commissioners serving on the subcommittees have recommended those subcommittee sessions be cancelled.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

FINANCE
The Board will consider a resolution authorizing an installment financing agreement, a deed of trust and related documents in connection with the construction of an addition to the County’s existing jail facility and renovations to convert the existing Maiden High School to a middle school and the existing Tuttle Middle School to an elementary school.  Following a public hearing at its February 21, 2005 meeting, the Board authorized staff to move forward with the installment financing plan.  The plan would fund an expansion of the County’s jail facility, which has experienced severe overcrowding over the last several years and has been 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 add an additional 176 beds and approximately 75,000 square feet, at an estimated cost of $18 million.  The installment financing plan would also fund renovations at two schools in the Catawba County system resulting from construction 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.

EMERGENCY SERVICES
A.  The Board will consider appropriating funds in the amount of $281,882 to implement a fiscal year 2004 Homeland Security Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The County will be reimbursed by this grant once the funds have been spent.  The Catawba County Department of Emergency Services recommends the funds be spent as follows: $130,000 to improve radio interoperability for various response agencies in the county including Emergency Services, law enforcement, fire and rescue and the Communications Center; $60,000 to enhance security at government buildings; and $91,882 for upgrades to a Mobile Command Post that responds to incidents in the county.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the supplemental appropriation of $281,882.

B.  The Board will consider a proposed increase in the County's rabies vaccination fee from $5 to $7, to be implemented during the annual rabies clinic to be held starting Tuesday, April 5.  Catawba County Animal Services has sponsored these annual rabies clinics in April for many years, with the assistance of county veterinarians.  The fee of $5 per vaccination has not changed over the last 10 years.  An increase from $5 to $7 per vaccination would allow veterinarians who assist the County in conducting the clinic to recoup their administrative costs as required under North Carolina Law, and allow the veterinarians to continue providing citizens with this needed service. Other area counties, including Burke and Alexander, have increased their vaccination fees over the past few years. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the fee increase from $5 to $7 per rabies vaccination for the annual rabies clinic.

BUDGET
A.  The Board will consider appropriating $120,000 to renovate a masonry class building at Newton-Conover High School, as part of a project grant from the North Carolina Governor’s Office which will result in creation of a Health Science and Language Academy within the high school.  The Newton-Conover City Schools has received a Bill and Melinda Gates New Schools Project Grant through the Governor’s Office.  These grants are awarded to school systems which have submitted plans to creatively redesign high schools.  The system's proposal would create a Health Science and Language Academy, where students would be part of a rigorous curriculum in a small setting with a teacher-student ratio of one to twelve.  Students would explore health science careers and become fluent in Spanish.  The academy would be open to students from all three public school systems in Catawba County.  The Newton-Conover City Schools expects to receive approximately $225,000 from the grant, for the first class of approximately 48 students in the fall of 2005.  These funds may be used for instructional materials, equipment, staff development and contracted services, but cannot be used for facility renovations or staffing. The high school has a stand-alone masonry class building with sufficient space to accommodate the proposed academy.  The Newton-Conover Board of Education is requesting $120,000 to complete renovations to the building, at an estimated cost of $30 per square foot, $15 per square foot below the customary cost for renovations.  The work needs to begin by April 1 in order to have the building ready when school begins in late August.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the appropriation.

SHERIFF'S OFFICE
A.  The Board will consider allocating funds, from an increase in Civil Process fees, for an Administrative Support Specialist position for entry of civil process papers, a Deputy Sheriff for the service of papers, and furniture and equipment needs of the Civil Division.  On September 1, 2004, the North Carolina General Assembly raised the fee for service of civil process from $5 per paper per person served to $15, with a requirement that at least 50% of the fees collected be used to improve the timely service of civil process.  The Sheriff’s Office proposes to add an Administrative Support Specialist position, effective May 1, 2005, to assist with the entry of civil process papers, answering phones and assisting citizens who visit the department.  One employee is currently responsible for processing an average of 14,000 papers per year and serves as a backup receptionist. The volume of work and frequent interruptions often leads to delays in assigning papers to officers, causing them to lose valuable time trying to serve papers before scheduled court dates that are often during the same week. The addition of the position would require the purchase of a new desk and a computer necessary for data entry.  

The Sheriff’s Office also proposes to add a Deputy position to attempt service of papers after hours, effective June 1, 2005. The Civil Process Division conducted a survey of nine local departments and found that Catawba County officers were handling, on average, 37% more papers per officer than other counties. The new officer would work from 3:00-11:00 p.m.. The first two hours of the shift would be spent at the Hickory Courthouse making telephone service of civil process, serving civil process in person and assisting with security at the Hickory Courthouse. The remainder of the shift would be spent attempting to serve civil papers that officers have been unable to serve during normal daytime hours. The Sheriff’s Office also proposes to use these funds to purchase an annual subscription to the Entersect Police Online System that will allow officers to run unlimited searches for addresses, phone numbers, cell phone numbers and known associates, which will save man hours in searching for this information; and mobile data terminals for civil officers that will allow the officers to obtain directions to addresses while in their cars, so they will not have to contact the Communications Center, and allow them to run tag numbers on vehicles at addresses to assist them in locating defendants for service of papers. The funds will also be used to purchase a copier/printer, new chairs, a computer desk and digital phones.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the use of these funds for the purposes stated above.

B.  The Board will consider authorizing an application for a Federal Justice Assistance Grant (JAG), on the behalf of Catawba County and the City of Hickory, in the amount of $47,683.  JAG Program funds may be spent on any purpose that benefits law enforcement. Catawba County and the City of Hickory are eligible to jointly receive a total of $47,683 and are required to develop Memoranda of Understanding itemizing the proposed allocation and purpose for the awarded funds.  The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office and Hickory Police Department have agreed to share the funds on a 50/50 basis, allocating each agency $23,841.50,  with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office serving as the lead agency on the grant.   The Sheriff’s Office plans to use its grant funds as follows:  $9590.50 will be used to purchase Tasers and Taser-related supplies to provide officers with a non-lethal means of self-protection, controlling and/or subduing individuals; $11,500 will be used to purchase a Portable Forensic Workhorse to allow for duplication of computer hard drives in various crimes including identity theft, narcotics, white-collar crimes and child pornography, and an advanced digital camera specially designed for crime scene investigation. Computer hard-drives currently must be sent to the State for analysis, which can take a year or more. $2761 will be used for the purchase of holographic targeting systems and mounts for existing AR15 rifles to be used by the Special Tactics and Reponse (STAR) Team for precision automated targeting of weapons. The Hickory Police Department plans to use its grant funds to purchase a specialized light used to identify fingerprint and blood samples at crime scenes, and to purchase stationary and moving radar units for police cars.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the grant application.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER    465-8464