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May 15, 2006

AGENDA 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, May 15, 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 May 1, 2006.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentations:

a.    Cancer Survivors’ Day Proclamation.  Presented to Gary Skinner, Cancer Survivor.

b.    Foster Care Month Proclamation.  Presented to Sybil Good, Co-Supervisor, Family Builders.

c.    Emergency Services Week Proclamation.  Presented to David Weldon, Emergency Services Director and Bryan Blanton, Emergency Services Manager.

d.    Commendation to Diana Beasley, North Carolina Teacher of the Year.

e.    Update on Tax Link Program and NCACC Award to Tax Link. Presented by Ed Wooters, NCACC to Jo Sloan, Family Support Program Manager. 


8.    Appointments.

9.    Consent Agenda:
a.    Approval of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council Funding Plan for Fiscal Year 2007 in the amount of $337,716.

b.    Approval of a Mental Health Budget Revision in the amount of $392,154.

c.    Appropriation of funds in the amount of $6000 to be used in the Citizen Alert Notification System Project.

d.    Approval of changes to the Emergency Services Fee Schedule.

e.    Adoption of a resolution donating three vehicles to Catawba County Schools.

f.    Tax refund request in the amount of $136.48.

10.    Departmental Reports.
a.  Purchasing/Communications:
Tower Lease Agreement with Verizon Wireless.  Presented by Debbie Anderson, Purchasing Agent and Jerry Boggs, Communications Center Administrator.

b.    Utilities and Engineering:

1.      Contract with P1 Catawba Development Company.  Presented by Barry B. Edwards, P.E., Utilities and Engineering Director and Scott Millar, President, Economic Development Corporation.
2.     Bunker Hill/Oxford School Sewer Contracts with the City of Conover.  Presented by Barry B. Edwards, P.E., Utilities and Engineering Director.
11.     Other items of business.

12.     Attorneys’ Report.
   
13.    Manager’s Report.

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 June 2006 Board of Commissioners meetings will take place on Monday, June 5, 2006 at 9:30 a.m. and on Monday, June 19, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.  Budget Hearings with Departments will take place on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. and on Thursday, June 15, 2006 from 8:00 a.m. to noon, with the Budget Public Hearing and Wrap-Up commencing at 5:30 p.m. on June 15, 2006.  The budget adoption will take place at the Regular Board of Commissioners meeting scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Monday, June 19, 2006.

PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, MAY 15, 2006, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider a proposed Joint Economic Development Agreement with P1 Catawba Development Company, a division of Pallet One, regarding the construction of a $2.5 million pallet manufacturing facility in the county that would create 35 new jobs; and two contracts with the City of Conover to provide municipal sewer service to Oxford Elementary School and Bunker Hill High School and surrounding areas, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 15, 2006, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room on the second floor of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton. 

The Board will also considering approving a funding plan for fiscal year 2007 for programs to assist young people in trouble with the law or at risk of having problems with the law, as recommended by the Catawba County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council; a revision to the Catawba County Mental Health Services budget to reflect new State funds; the acceptance of a grant from Duke Energy to assist in funding a proposed new Citizen Alert Notification System; changes to the County Emergency Medical Services fee schedule to reflect changes in federal and state law regarding Medicaid eligibility; the donation of three surplus vehicles to the Catawba County School System; a tax refund request; and a proposed lease agreement to allow Verizon Wireless to lease space on the County's Communication Tower behind the Justice Center in Newton in order to improve Verizon coverage in the Newton area.  The Board will also see the presentation of an Outstanding County Program Award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners for the Catawba Tax Link Program of the Department of Social Services and receive an update on that program; present a a Certificate of Commendation to Hickory Public Schools teacher Diana Beasley, who has been named North Carolina Public School Teacher of the Year,  and issue proclamations for National Cancer Survivors Day, Emergency Services Week and Foster Care Month.

PRESENTATIONS
A. The Board will issue a proclamation declaring Saturday, June 3 as National Cancer Survivors Day in Catawba County, to recognize success stories of cancer survivors currently living in Catawba County and encourage the public to learn more about ways to prevent and survive cancer.

B.  The Board will issue a proclamation declaring May as Foster Care Month in Catawba County to recognize the enduring and valuable contribution of foster parents; that foster families are providing children with a safe, secure and stable home along with the compassion and nurturing of a foster family; that foster families help launch children into successful adulthood; and that there are numerous individuals and organizations working to increase public awareness of the needs of children while they are in foster care and as they are leaving care.

C.  The Board will issue a proclamation declaring the week of May 14-20 as Emergency Medical Services Week, to acknowledge the vital public services provided by EMS.  Catawba County emergency medical service teams are ready to provide lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Catawba County residents benefit from the knowledge and skills of these highly trained individuals.

D.  The Board will issue a Certificate of Commendation honoring Hickory High School biology teacher Diana Beasley, 2006-07 North Carolina Teacher of the Year.  The certificate commends her for 24 years of service as a teacher, 17 at Hickory High; her commitment to excellence and to extracting superior performance from her students; and her philosophy that failure is not an option, which has resulted in students leaving Hickory High with confidence and self-respect.

E.  The Board will watch as the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners presents an Outstanding County Program Award to the Catawba Tax Link program.  These awards honor innovative county programs and encourage counties to recognize and share information with other counties about programs that involve a uniquely innovative process, solution or idea.  Catawba County Department of Social Services staff heard stories for years about struggling families losing hundreds of dollars at tax time either through tax preparation costs or interest lost to take advantage of programs that provide a quick tax refund.  With the encouragement and support of the Internal Revenue Service, staff established a Volunteers in Tax Assistance site to assist with tax preparation.  Social Services staff headed up the effort.  Staff from Catawba Valley Community College and Lenoir-Rhyne College were invited to join.   The group decided to serve families with less than $35,000 in income.  It was agreed that the Tax Link would operate at the Job Link Center on the East Campus of CVCC on Tuesday nights, Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings.  Students from the two colleges were encouraged to join the effort and received class credit for their work.  In its first year, the Tax Link assisted 134 families in filing their taxes. These families avoided over $20,000 in filing fees.  50 families received $65,651 in Earned Income Tax Credit.  26 families were assisted in claiming Child Tax Credits.  $191,693 in tax refunds were claimed.   The Board will also hear an update at this meeting on the work of Catawba Tax Link in 2006.

CONSENT AGENDA
A.   The Board will consider a request from the Catawba County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) for approval of the council's funding plan for Fiscal Year 2007-08 in the amount of $337,716.  At its April 18, 2006 meeting, the JCPC approved the following funding for FY 2007-08: JCPC Administration, $12,986; Project Challenge, $50,900; the Conflict Resolution Center, $20,168; FamilyNET, $41,296; The Cognitive Connection, $22,088; the Catawba Parenting Network, $12,626; and Corner House I and II, $177,652, for the total of $337,716.  The JCPC annually conducts an assessment of youth at risk of trouble with the law or those already in the court system.  It requests proposals for programs to meet those needs from human service agencies, schools, housing authorities and others who might be interested in applying for funds. The Council reviews proposals and makes recommendations to the County for funding to meet the needs of youth.  The Board of Commissioners' Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the proposed funding plan.  
        
B.  The Board will consider a request from the Catawba County Mental Health Services Board of Directors to approve an  increase to the current Mental Health budget of $392,154 bringing it to a total of $19,797,641. This revision adds no new positions and requests no additional County funding.  It reflects the addition of $287,154 from the State, an appropriation of $100,000 in Mental Health Services fund balance for the Adult Life Program and a $5000 grant to the Criminal Justice Partnership Program for Substance Abuse treatment services.  The additional $287,154 in State funds includes 1) a one-time allocation of  $22,000 to serve one or two individuals who have Traumatic Brain Injuries for the remainder of this year; 2) a one-time allocation of $83,000 to contract with Catawba Valley Behavioral Health to develop Mobile Crisis Services, a more in-depth response to people in psychiatric crisis delivered at any location where a crisis is occurring; 3) $115,487 resulting from changes in billing procedures.  Community Based Services (CBS) will no longer exist and a new service titled Developmental Therapy will replace it for children and adults with developmental disabilities.  Additional funds have been allocated to cover services for consumers previously receiving CBS Services; and 4) $66,667 on a recurring basis to support a care coordinator position to formally implement “Systems of Care for Child Mental Health”, in coordination with Social Services, Public Health, schools, juvenile courts and families on behalf of children with emotional problems.  The $100,000 appropriated from Mental Health Fund Balance will assist with the Adult Life Program's budgetary cash flow and will fund networking for all sites; furniture for the Conover and Hickory sites; and printing costs.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve this budget revision.

C.  The Board will consider appropriating a $6,000 grant from Duke Energy to help fund a proposed County Citizen Alert Notification System.  On February 20, 2006 the Board appropriated $145,110 for the implementation of a Citizens Alert Notification System.  The system will use a recorded message to notify citizens by telephone of an emergency, and advise them on the proper course of action to be taken.  Initial funding for the project came from a 2005 Homeland Security Grant.  Having learned, during the process of re-licensing its hydroelectric dam system on the Catawba-Wateree River chain, of concerns that citizens be notified of flooding and other conditions related to the river, Duke Energy has agreed to appropriate $6,000 to support the project, increasing the amount of the funds available to $151,110.  A Citizen’s Alert Notification Working Group has been established to implement the system. It anticipates having an implementation and marketing plan in place by July 2006, with the system activated no later than April 2007. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve appropriation of the grant funds.

D.  The Board will consider proposed changes to the County's Emergency Medical Services Fee Schedule.  County and State officials have been going through a phased implementation process for the new fee schedule, which went into effect on April 1, 2006.  Annual increases in the rates allowed by Medicare and a split reimbursement methodology, which used a percentage of the current billing method and a percentage of the new fee schedule, were to be used until the new fee schedule went into effect.  Now that the National Medicare Fee Schedule is in place, the County’s fee schedule must be adjusted to accurately reflect current billing practices.  Prior to full implementation of the national schedule, Emergency Medical Services fees were itemized.  The new national schedule does not allow itemized charges, so the County's new fee schedule would collapse the old, itemized schedule into a base rate within the newly allowed Medicare rate, including the most commonly used items plus the allowed mileage charge.  EMS staff requests that the fee schedule change be made prior to adoption of a new County budget to eliminate confusion, denials from Medicare and possible loss of revenue to the County.  The changes are consistent with the current EMS fee philosophy and designed to maintain current County revenues. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board adopt the proposed EMS Fee Schedule.

E.  The Board will consider approving the donation of three vehicles to the Catawba County School System.  The vehicles include a 1992 Ford Explorer, 1995 Dodge High Top Van and 1998 Freightliner Ambulance of no further use to the County.  Their approximate value is as follows: 1992 Ford, $1500; 1995 Dodge, $2000; 1998 Freightliner, $6000.  The Catawba County Schools will use the Explorer to haul buckets and mops for waxing floors.  The van will be used for a furniture crew to move items into the new high school and between other schools effected by that move. The ambulance will be used to haul floor stripping equipment this summer.  Under NC General Statute 160A-274, a governmental unit may transfer personal property to another governmental unit with or without consideration.  The Finance & Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the donation of the three vehicles to the Catawba County School System.

F.  The Board will consider a tax refund request totaling $136.48.  Records have been checked and this refund 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.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

PURCHASING/COMMUNICATIONS

The Board will consider an agreement between Catawba County and Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless to lease space on the County's radio tower located behind the Justice Center.  Catawba  County's main cellular agreement is with Verizon Wireless.  Verizon has provided good service for county departments; however, coverage in the Newton area is an issue.  County staff requested that Verizon add equipment to improve coverage in the Government Center/Justice Center area, which will also improve Verizon coverage in the general Newton area.

Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless has proposed to install equipment necessary to improve coverage.  Verizon will pay an annual rental fee to the County of $18,000, with a 3% increase in rent each year.  In addition, Verizon will pay for and perform structural upgrades to the tower required to support the Verizon equipment; provide landscaping at the site to assist in buffering the Verizon equipment building from other uses on the site; and change out light bulbs on the tower while Verizon's crew is doing the structural upgrades which will result in a savings to the County of approximately $4000. The lease is for an initial five-year term and may be extended for an additional five-year term.  Funds from the lease would be reserved for future upkeep and repair required for the radio tower.  County Communication staff met with Verizon to ensure their signal does not interfere with the County's radio frequencies.  The lease agreement states that it will be Verizon's responsibility to take any action necessary to avoid interference.  The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the proposed lease agreement with Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless be approved.

UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
A.  The Board will consider a proposed Joint Economic Development Agreement between P1 Catawba Development Company of Huntersville, NC, a division of Pallet One, Inc, and Catawba County.  The Board is overseeing development of an EcoComplex, designed to improve the ecology and economy of  the county through mutually beneficial relationships between commercial enterprise and governmental services.  The Eco-Complex is designed to promote economic development and create new jobs in the green energy, business, agricultural and environmental sectors.  The County is considering the development of an Energy Facility that will employ wood materials, sawdusts, byproducts and waste as a green energy fuel to provide low cost energy to the EcoComplex entities, supporting the EcoComplex design and vision.

P1 Catawba Development Company (referred to hereafter, in this document only, as P1) is considering locating a $2.5 million, 35 employee pallet manufacturing facility on land adjacent to the Blackburn Landfill on Woodtech Drive, a newly developed State road connected to Rocky Ford Road and designed specifically for EcoComplex development.  The 35 new jobs will be created within a period of 36 months and will meet or exceed the average weekly wage for similar industries in the county, as determined by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

The proposed agreement provides that the County will transfer fee simple title to 12.59 acres of real property located on Woodtech Drive, with a tax value estimated by the County Tax Department at $37,800, and provide water and sewer service to the property line.  Within 30 months of the date of the agreement, the new facility is expected to be constructed,
with equipment and machinery in place, as a new taxable investment valued at $2.5 million.  P1 will remove soils and other useful materials from the property for the County’s use as landfill liner, cover and operational materials, at its own expense, and transport same to a location determined by the County on Blackburn Landfill property within 24 months after the start of the project.  P1 will make available to the County all wood byproducts, sawdust, and unusable wood pallets and wood pallet parts, derived or created by P1 and/or its associated companies for use as a EcoComplex resource, at a cost not to exceed the fair-market value as determined by pulp & paper indices for sawdusts.  The County will sell steam energy to P1 and/or its associated companies upon the completion of the County’s Energy Facility, at a price equal to or less than market value as determined by the natural gas market average for steam energy production or equivalent for the preceding 12 months. Fees charged for steam energy shall be in BTUs and will be controlled by the Board of Commissioners.

If P1 fails to invest or cause the total assessed value of the project to be less than $2,500,000, the County may terminate the agreement and have no further obligation to P1 for payment or provision for any incentive. If the agreement is terminated for this reason, the fee simple title to the 12.59 acre tract on Woodtech Drive would be returned to the County and any incentive awards already paid would be reimbursed to the County. The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the proposed agreement.

B.  The Board will consider approving two contracts with the City of Conover to provide sewer service to Bunker Hill High School and Oxford Elementary School and the surrounding areas.  The County's fiscal year 2005-06 budget included $2.93 million for these projects. Grant funds from the State were awarded for the projects.  The Bunker Hill/Oxford Sewer Project will immediately provide sewer service to both Bunker Hill High School and Oxford Elementary School in order to address an aging sewage disposal system which has had increasing operating and maintenance costs.  Riverbend Middle School was built in 1998 and has an adequate sewage disposal system.  However, the Bunker Hill portion of this project will provide access to municipal sanitary sewer service for Riverbend Middle School if needed in the future.  The Bunker Hill portion of the project is being addressed under a contract using the County's revenue sharing option, while the Oxford Elementary School portion is addressed using a revolving loan, as follows:

1) Bunker Hill High School Project- Revenue Sharing: Bunker Hill High currently operates a sand filter discharge system, but an update costing $5000 would be needed this year to meet new state requirements concerning chlorine limits and, in order to meet increased flows, a $200,000 addition to the system would be needed.  Also, the system is currently located less than 150 feet from a new classroom addition scheduled for completion in December 2006 and there have been numerous complaints of odors due to the location of the system and direction of the prevailing winds.  This project will consist of a series of sanitary sewer lines designated as Lines A and B.  Line A will include approximately 7,750 feet of 6-inch diameter force main from a new pump station near the intersection of Lyle Creek and Bunker Hill School Road extending west along Lyle Creek to the existing Rock Barn Pumping Station.  Line B includes approximately 10,000 feet of gravity sewer line ranging in size from 8-inches to 12-inches in diameter beginning at Bunker Hill High School and  extending southward to the new pumping station located near the intersection of Lyle Creek and Bunker Hill School Road. This part of the project has an estimated cost of $1,538,303. State grant funds in the amount of $924,000 will be applied, leaving a County investment of $614,303.  The County's funds would be paid back in approximately 14 years from shared revenues resulting from the line, based on potential growth in the area served.  Although Riverbend Middle School was not included in this project because its current system is relatively new and adequate, the school could be served by this project through the addition of a pump station and force main in the future

2) Oxford Elementary Sewer Project- Revolving Loan:  Oxford Elementary has a subsurface sewage disposal system designed to treat 0.0009 million gallons per day. The system is near capacity and showing evidence of malfunction.  Costs to replace the system have been estimated at more than $300,000.  The Oxford Elementary School Project consists of a series of two sanitary sewer lines which include approximately 9300 linear feet of 8-inch gravity sanitary sewer line beginning at an existing city sewer line at Community Road and extending in a northward and westward direction along natural draws to the Oxford Elementary School site.  This project has an estimated cost of $792,860. State grant funds in the amount of $476,000 will be applied to this project, leaving a County investment of $316,860. Under the County's Revolving Loan Program, 75% of the County’s cost will be reimbursed over a 10-year period and the County will grant 25%. The City of Conover would reimburse the County 75% of $316,860, for a total of $237,645, in ten equal annual payments. The Policy & Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve separate contracts for the two projects, as outlined above, with the City of Conover.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER    465-8464