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June 20, 2005

AGENDA 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, June 20, 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 the Regular Meeting of June 6, 2005.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentations:
Distinguished Public Service Award presented to Dr. William R. Crawford, Superintendent of Newton-Conover City Schools.
8.    Appointments.

9.    Departmental Reports:
a.  Planning:
Ordinance for the establishment of a Voluntary Agricultural District Program and an agricultural advisory board. Presented by County Manager J. Thomas Lundy.
b.    Finance:
Budget Revision to Recognize Additional EMS Revenue Collections.  Presented by Rodney Miller, Finance Director.
c.    Sheriff’s Department:
Electronic Citation Security Agreement.  Presented by Sgt. B. Lynn Baker, Deputy Sheriff.
10.    Attorneys’ Report.

11.    Manager’s Report.
a.    Adoption of the Catawba County Annual Budget for Fiscal Year 2005-2006.

b.    Cigarette Tax to Support County Medicaid Relief Resolution. Presented by Assistant County Manager Joellen Daley.

12.    Other items of business.

13.    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 Board of Commissioners meeting will take place at 7:00 p.m. on July 11, 2005.  The next subcommittee meeting will take place on July 25, 2005 at 8:30 a.m. in the 2nd Floor Conference Room of the Government Center.
 

PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
JUNE 20, 2005, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider adoption of a County budget for fiscal year 2005-2006; the establishment of a Voluntary Agriculture District and Agricultural Advisory Board; and a resolution suggesting the North Carolina General Assembly utilize an increase in the state tax on cigarettes to phase out North Carolina counties' share of Medicaid costs, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 20, 2005, in the 1924 Courthouse in Newton. 

The Board will also consider an agreement with the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to use a new E-Citation system so Catawba County sheriff's deputies may issue citations directly from laptop computers by a printer and transmit the citation ticket information to the AOC computer system in Raleigh; a budget revision to account for increased ambulance billing costs; and a resolution honoring Newton-Conover City Schools Superintendent Dr. William Crawford, who will become superintendent of the Orange County, Virginia school system on July 1.

NOTE:  THE BOARD WILL HOLD A JOINT MEETING WITH THE CONOVER, MAIDEN AND NEWTON CITY COUNCILS AT 4:30 P.M. ON MONDAY, JUNE 20, AT CONOVER CITY HALL. 

PRESENTATION
The Board will present a Distinguished Public Service Award to Newton-Conover City Schools Superintendent Dr. William R. Crawford, who will become superintendent of the Orange County, Virginia school system on July 1.  Dr. Crawford has served as Superintendent of the Newton-Conover City Schools for eight years.  His career in public education spans thirty years and he has excelled in roles as teacher, assistant principal, principal and superintendent.  During Dr. Crawford’s tenure with Newton-Conover City Schools, math proficiency scores in grades 3-8 have risen from 73.3 percent to 88.9 percent and high school minority student achievement scores rose from 39.9 percent to 69.9 percent.  Dr. Crawford was instrumental in bringing a synergistic lab, a Nortel networking lab, fiber-optic networks, computer labs, and Inquiry Based Science Kits to the system, and has been a positive and effective administrator, seeking the best for the students of Newton-Conover City Schools.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

PLANNING

The Board will consider an ordinance establishing a Voluntary Agricultural District Program and an Agricultural Advisory Board for the county.  For the past several years, the County’s Planning staff has been working with farmers in the county to develop an ordinance that would acknowledge farming activities as part of the county’s heritage, promote the continuation of farming activities and preserve farmland in the future.  A proposed ordinance to establish an Agricultural District Program and an Agricultural Advisory Board was presented to the Board of Commissioners at its May 16, 2005 meeting, at which time a public hearing was held and comments were received.  Several members of the farming community made comments supporting the ordinance as written.  Members of the Board of Commissioners raised several questions and the County Attorney raised legal concerns about whether the ordinance should address land condemnation proceedings.  The Board directed staff to send the ordinance to other public entities for their comment and review, study the questions and legal concerns that were raised, and come back with a recommendation prior to this meeting.  Staff reviewed the ordinance language, compared it with ordinances adopted by other counties, consulted with cities and compared it to current Catawba County policies.

Commissioners Kitty Barnes and Dan Hunsucker, along with members of the County staff, met with members of the farming community and discussed a modified ordinance.  As a result of the meeting, held on June 9, 2005, consensus was reached on the majority of the outstanding issues including makeup of the advisory board and its duties, tenure and representation; public notice of voluntary agricultural districts; water and sewer connection requirements and assessments; and growth corridors and centers.   There were two issues on which the group could not reach consensus:  the condemnation provision and the applicability of the ordinance to the municipalities’ extraterritorial jurisdictions.  After taking all comments into consideration concerning the two outstanding items, County staff recommends the ordinance not apply to the municipalities’ extraterritorial jurisdiction and that it contain no language that relates to condemnation, since the procedure for condemnation is articulated in the North Carolina General Statutes.

During the June 9 meeting, the group discussed the proposed public notice of Voluntary Agricultural Districts, which would include references to signage and subdivision plats.  The ordinance would contain specific language concerning the erection of signs to denote agricultural districts.  Members of the farming community expressed a desire to educate the public about the farming uses and activities on these properties.  In addition, a notice would be posted in the Register of Deeds Office informing the public of the types of activities that would occur in designated voluntary agricultural districts.  A corresponding map would be displayed in the Register of Deeds Office showing the approved voluntary agricultural districts. With regard to subdivision plats, the group agreed that notice of proximity of agricultural districts to proposed subdivisions would be noted on future plats.  For any proposed subdivision adjacent to an agricultural district, a half-mile boundary would be drawn on the plat depicting the proximity of the subdivision to the farming area or voluntary agricultural district.  The notice would be another attempt to notify the public and, in this case, new residents, of the types of farming activities that would be permitted on the property adjacent to a proposed subdivision.  It was further agreed that this provision would only apply to new subdivisions proposed after the adoption date of this ordinance.  Staff recommends the adoption of the ordinance as amended, and recommends a letter be sent to municipalities explaining the intent of the ordinance and suggesting they work with the farming community to encourage signage in farming areas to provide notice and educate the public regarding the county’s important farming heritage. 

FINANCE
The Board will consider a budget revision to increase the current Finance Department budget by $50,000, to account for increased ambulance billing costs.  The County contracts with EMS Management Systems & Consultants, Inc. for routine billing, bill processing and fee collection services for ambulance charges, and for account management.  The County pays EMS Management Systems a monthly fee equal to 8% of net ambulance collections, and pays fees to two collection agencies that collect delinquent accounts on the County's behalf.   The initial budget for these fees in fiscal year 2004-2005 was $172,000.  Analyzing revenues collected to date, staff estimates ambulance collections will exceed $2,550,000, or $100,000 in excess of budgeted revenues.  Staff estimates expenses at $222,000, including the EMS fees on current billings and fees paid for delinquent accounts.  Staff recommends the Board increase the Finance Department's budget and the ambulance billing revenue line item in the FY 2004-2005 budget by $50,000 to account for this overage.

SHERIFF'S OFFICE
The Board will consider an interagency agreement with the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to implement the E-Citation system, designed to automate and connect information entered by personnel in clerks’ offices, magistrates offices, and sheriffs’ offices statewide, eliminating the need for information to be re-entered into different systems.  This agreement will cover the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office's access to the system and future applications such as for the magistrate system and its successor, the Statewide Automated Electronic Warrant Repository.  The AOC's Technology Service Division has implemented the E-Citation system with the State Highway Patrol and numerous other agencies across North Carolina to provide data to the AOC.  The system allows officers to use existing laptops to submit traffic citations directly to the AOC through the Criminal Justice Information Network system, and access Department of Motor Vehicles information. Officers will be able to issue citations directly from laptop computers to a printer and transmit the ticket information to the AOC computer system. Since the Sheriff's Office's use of E-Citation is in the category of users “providing data to the AOC”, no fees would be charged to the County.  The AOC is also supplying participants with free in-car printers to print the citations.  Mounts for these printers are not included and would cost approximately $10-$15 each.  The Sheriff’s Office currently has ten laptops with the necessary interface software to access the system and anticipates receiving ten printers, which is sufficient for all of the officers currently writing tickets in the county on a daily basis.  The State has verbally committed to provide ten printers to the County, but will not supply additional printers should the County purchase more laptops at a later date, nor will it provide repair, replacement or maintenance for those printers supplied to the County.  As the Sheriff’s Office upgrades or replaces laptops, additional units will be capable of accessing the system with a printer/cabling/mounting cost of $450 each, which can be absorbed in the Sheriff’s Office budget.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the interagency agreement with the AOC.

MANAGER'S REPORT
A.  The Board will consider final adoption of a fiscal year 2004-2005 Catawba County budget.   If approved as finalized by the Board following a public hearing at its June 14 budget wrap-up session, the budget would total $194,520,328.  It would include funding to address recommendations from the four areas studied by the FORESIGHT Steering Committee.  These include making a start on a FORESIGHT recommendation to increase teacher salary supplements by 5% over the next five years, through a one cent tax increase which would fund a 2% increase in salary supplements for approximately 70% of county's teachers, on the basis of performance, with the decisions on how to distribute the increased supplements to be made by the county's three public boards of education; consideration of a multi-jurisdictional business park, under the leadership of the Economic Development Corporation, and development of a "Most Favored Business" Program targeting specific industries that pay above average wages and are predicted to have strong job growth, suggestions of FORESIGHT in the area of Jobs and Business Creation and, in the area of the environment, the County’s share of funding for a regional air quality specialist employed by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments, using the same regional strategy as is used in transportation planning and Catawba River water quality, and the implementation of a local erosion and sedimentation control program, two other recommendations of the FORESIGHT Committee.
 
B.  The Board will consider a resolution suggesting an increase in the State's cigarette tax to support Medicaid relief. The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) has asked Boards of Commissioners across the state to consider the resolution.  The Catawba County Board of Commissioners has set relief from the County’s share of Medicaid funding as its most important legislative priority and it is also the top legislative priority of the NCACC.  

To date, there have been several bills filed in the General Assembly which would require a full phase-out of county Medicaid contributions.  The State Senate's budget did not include any Medicaid relief, but the State House has before it a proposal that would cap counties' current contributions, plus 2%, and hold at that level for five additional years.  If the County's contributions were capped at current budget level of $6,350,000 plus 2%, this would result in an approximate contribution for Catawba County of $6,500,000 over the next five fiscal years.  With the projection of annual Medicaid increases approaching 14%, the cumulative savings that would be realized over the same five-year period from this cap would be approximately $15 million.  Staff recommends the Board adopt a resolution recommending the General Assembly phase out the County's share of Medicaid costs, and forward the resolution to the members of the County's legislative delegation and the NCACC.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER    465-8464