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August 1, 2005

AGENDA 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, August 1, 2005, 9:30 a.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 the Minutes from the Regular Meeting of July 11, 2005.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentations:
a. Presentation on the Public Safety Training and Education Complex Feasibility Study. Presented by Steve Allen, Consultant, Solutions for Local Governments, Inc.

b. Proposed Department of Transportation Realignment of Kiser Island Road. Presented by Steven Rackley, PE, Project Manager, NCDOT
8.    Appointments.

9.    Consent Agenda:
a.    Tax Refund Request – Hickory Dermatology

b.    Allocation of JAG Award


c.    Increase to Menommune Fee


d.    Teacher Supplement Appropriation

e.     Apointment of Map Review Officer for City of Claremont
10.    Departmental Reports.
a.    Catawba County Schools:
Request to retain an architect for a new elementary school.  Presented by Dr. Tim Markley, Superintendent, Catawba County Schools.

b.  Utilities and Engineering:

Convenience Center Changes. Presented Barry Edwards, Utilities and Engineering Director.

c.    Social Services:

Presentation on electing Counties, and changes to the Medicare and Medicaid program.  Presented by Bobby Boyd, Social Services Director.
11.    Attorneys’ Report.

12.    Manager’s Report.

13.    Other items of business.

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
There will be a joint meeting of the Board of Commissioners and the Claremont and Catawba Councils at 4:30 on Monday, August 15, 2005 at the Claremont Fire Department with the regular Board of Commissioners meeting to follow at Claremont City Hall at 7:00 p.m. 
 
PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2005,  9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider changes to the County's Convenience Center fee schedule, to include a charge of $1 per bag of non-recyclable waste regardless of how many bags of recyclable waste, which are accepted free of fees, that a citizen brings in, and a reduction in operating hours at the Cooksville Convenience Center, which has the lowest monthly average customer count and the highest operational cost per ton, from five days a week to two days (Friday & Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., effective November 6, 2005) in order to bring the convenience center program closer to revenue neutral; receive a feasibility study for a proposed Public Safety Training and Education Complex; and get an update from Social Services Director Bobby Boyd on the County's application for "electing county status" under the State's Work First program and on upcoming changes to Medicaid and Medicare, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, August 1, 2005, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
 
The Board will also hear a request from the Catawba County School System to transfer funds already budgeted to the system to begin design of a new elementary school; hear details on a North Carolina Department of Transportation plan to realign Kiser Island Road with an entrance road to the Duke Power facility off Highway 150 to improve sight lines and safety; and consider the allocation of funds from a Federal Justice Assistance Grant; a proposed increase in the fee charged by the County Health Department for the Menommune vaccine for meningitis, to reflect an increase in the cost of the vaccine; the appropriation of a donation by a citizen who specified the funds be used to support increased teacher salary supplements; a request from the City of Claremont to appoint a new Map Review Officer for the city; and one tax refund.

PRESENTATIONS
A.  Mr. Steve Allen of Solutions for Local Government, Inc. will present an overview of a feasibility study of a Public Safety Training and Education Complex for the county.   The 2002 Future Forward Committee and the City of Hickory's "Horizons: Continuing The Vision" Master Plan both suggested the development of a "state-of-the-art complex in Catawba County that will address, through a coordinated approach involving all agencies and organizations, the multi-faceted educational and training needs for public safety and public service providers within the Greater Hickory Metropolitan Area and beyond".  Such a facility could focus on emergency preparedness in areas such as sophisticated and specialized training, enhancement of coordinated interagency response to emergencies, and incident, scenario and long-range planning. Citizen education in areas of public safety could also be offered, and shared government resources and cooperation between public and private agencies could also be enhanced.  Mr. Allen is expected to give a summary of the feasibility report, which includes a review of the concept, a business plan and a site master plan for such a training complex.

B.  The Board will hear from Mr. Steven Rackley, a North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) engineer, on plans to realign Kiser Island Road so it aligns with the entrance to the Duke Power facility on Highway 150.  NCDOT staff are working to obtain State funding for the relocation and need a resolution from the Board approving the project in order to fund it.  The project would realign 0.214 miles of Kiser Island Road, to improve sight distance and other safety features.

CONSENT AGENDA
A.   The Board will consider a tax refund request totaling $30.15.  Records have been checked and this refund has been verified, so the Tax Collector recommends approval.  Under North Carolina 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 allocating funds awarded under a Federal Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) to the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office and the Hickory Police Department, in the amount of $47,683.   At its March 21, 2005 meeting, the Board approved the County's grant application. The JAG Program is a formula-based grant that utilizes Uniform Crime Reporting statistics from all law enforcement agencies to determine eligibility for grant awards. The funds may be spent on virtually any purpose that benefits law enforcement. The County and Hickory have agreed to share the funds on a 50/50 basis, which gives each agency $23,841.50. There is no match associated with these funds.   As lead agency on the grant, the County will receive all of the funds and reimburse Hickory for its half of the funds after it has purchased all items detailed in its application.  The Sheriff’s Office plans to use the funds to 1) purchase Tasers and Taser-related supplies to provide officers with a non-lethal means of self-protection, controlling and/or subduing individuals ($9590.50); 2) purchase investigative equipment, including 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 so hard drives will no longer need to be sent to State agencies for analysis, which can take a year or more; and an advanced digital camera specially designed for crime scene investigation ($11,500); and 3) purchase holographic targeting systems and mounts for existing AR15 rifles used by the County's Special Tactics and Response (STAR) Team for precision automated targeting of weapons ($2751).  The Hickory Police Department has indicated it will use its funds to purchase a Forensic Light Source, a specialized light used to identify fingerprint and blood samples at crime scenes, and stationary and moving radar units for police cars.  The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board allocate the grant funds as noted.

C.  The Board will consider a request from the Catawba County Board of Health to increase the fee charged by the Catawba County Health Department for the Menommune vaccine from the current rate of $88 to $105.  The increase is due to an increased cost for the vaccine.  The Health Department has offered Menommune as a vaccine against meningococcal disease (meningitis) for the past five years.  Over the past few years, the Health Department has administered approximately 200 Menommune vaccinations and demand for the vaccine continues to rise.  In April 2005, the Health Department learned Menommune would no longer be available for standard immunization against meningococcal disease.  A new vaccine, Menactra, was licensed in January 2005 for meningococcal vaccinations.  According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control, Menactra is available only for persons 11-55 years of age, especially targeting persons 15-24 years of age.  83% of cases in adolescents and young adults can be prevented by immunization with the Menactra vaccine.  Menommune will be available only for persons less than 11 years old and more than 55 years old, and in the event of an outbreak.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the increase in the Menommune fee.

D.  The Board will consider appropriating funds donated by a county citizen who specified the funds be used to support increased teacher salary supplements.  The County's Finance Department received a donation of $1000 from Mr. Robert E. Vollinger on July 1, 2005, with a request that the funds be used for teacher supplements in the County’s three school systems. In order to honor Mr. Vollinger's request, an appropriation must occur to remit those funds to the three public school systems in Catawba County.  By State law, the funds must be distributed on a per pupil basis. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board appropriate the $1000 donation to be used for teacher supplements.

E.  The Board will consider a request from the City of Claremont to appoint Laurie Bradshaw as Map Review Officer.  The resolution would remove Corey Teague as a review officer due to his leaving employment with the city.  On July 17, 1997, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified Senate Bill 875 which requires all counties to appoint review officers to review each plat or map before it is recorded, and certify that it meets statutory requirements for mapping.  The law states that individuals be appointed by name and not by job title so, when a change occurs in staffing, a new Review Officer has to be appointed and approved by resolution of the Board of Commissioners and recorded in the Register of Deed’s Office.  Staff recommends the Board adopt the resolution appointing Laurie Bradshaw as Review Officer for the City of Claremont.
 
DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

A.  CATAWBA COUNTY SCHOOLS

The Board will consider a request from the Catawba County Schools for the transfer of $414,259, from funds set aside for unspecified future projects to the Schools Construction Fund, to begin architectural design for a new elementary school.
In the current fiscal year's County budget, $738,000 was set aside for unspecified projects to be used by the Catawba County School System once their top priority funding need was decided.  The Catawba County Board of Education has decided to move ahead with plans for a Catawba Elementary School.  Construction of a new elementary school is included in the four-year funding plan for the current revaluation cycle, with a projected cost of $9.2 million. The project is scheduled to be financed in February 2006 using installment purchase financing.   The newest estimates from the Catawba County School System indicate the cost of the new elementary school could be $11.5 million due to inflation; however, no funding commitment has been made by the County beyond the initial $9.2 million planned cost.  The Catawba County Board of Education has selected CBSA Architects for the project.  In order to begin design work and complete construction of the school by June 2007, $414,259 is being requested as a transfer from funds for unspecified projects included in the current year Schools’ Capital Outlay Fund.  County staff recommends the transfer be approved.

B.  UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
The Board will consider a proposed adjustment to the County's Convenience Center Fee Schedule, the addition of security equipment at the convenience centers, and a proposed reduction in hours of operation at the Cooksville Convenience Center.  Convenience centers are located across Catawba County to give citizens solid waste disposal and recycling opportunities closer to where they live.    On October 6, 2003, the Board granted an exclusive franchise contract for solid waste management and disposal services for all unincorporated areas of Catawba County to Republic Services of NC, LLC (doing business in Catawba County as Garbage Disposal Service, or GDS).  The contract stipulated, among other things, that GDS implement a policy which establishes procedures adequate to account for income and GDS expenses at each of the convenience centers and insure that cash received at the centers is accounted for according to County policy.  In response to this stipulation, GDS has implemented a system of checks and balances to account for the volume of use of the convenience centers, and for fees collected at the centers.  GDS is also proposing that security at the centers be increased through the use of remotely-monitored security cameras.  The proposed security cameras will also enhance monitoring of the use of the centers and the GDS personnel who operate them.  The cost for the cameras will be $1740 per site (a total of $8700 for all five centers), $2150 for remote monitoring equipment, and $30 per month, per site, for high speed Internet connectivity.

County Department of Utilities and Engineering staff looked at the continuing need and viability of each convenience center.  The Cooksville Convenience Center has the lowest monthly average customer/trip count among all five centers, (1113 customers/trips), the lowest monthly average volume of waste, (38.23 tons); and the highest operational cost per ton, ($154.41).  In comparison, the busiest of the five centers, the Blackburn Center, has an average monthly customer/trip count of 5580, an average waste volume of 210.7 tons and an operational cost per ton of $65.44.  Staff  recommends the hours of operation at the Cooksville Convenience Center be reduced from five days per week (Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) to two days per week, Friday and Saturday, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, effective November 6, 2005.  

Staff also analyzed the average cost per bag of waste to the County, and is recommending a fee adjustment to bring  convenience center costs closer to revenue neutral, or "breaking even".  Catawba County's convenience centers have been operating at a budget deficit for several years. A loss of more than $180,000 for the five centers is projected for fiscal year 2004-2005 once final figures for June are determined.  The average cost per bag of waste is $1.09.  Due to complications derived from handling coins to make change, staff has recommended the minimum fee be set at $1.00 per bag for individual bags of waste being disposed.  The proposed fee schedule would no longer include a bag for bag credit for recyclables, which citizens have indicated is confusing.  Customers will continue to have an incentive to recycle, however, because reducing the number of bags of waste will reduce the customer's costs.  Regardless of how many bags of recyclables a customer may have, he or she will pay $1.00 for each bag of waste they bring and recyclables will be accepted free of charge.  The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the proposed adjustment to the Convenience Center Fee Schedule, the proposed security equipment and the proposed hours of operation at the Cooksville Convenience Center.

C.  SOCIAL SERVICES
Catawba County Director of Social Services Bobby Boyd is expected to present information regarding upcoming changes to Medicaid/Medicare and an update on Catawba County's application for "Electing County" status under the State's Work First Plan.  Work First began in North Carolina in 1995.  In 1996, Congress ended the national welfare program known as AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and crafted legislation to allow states to implement their own welfare programs.  This allowed the North Carolina General Assembly to go even further with welfare reform.  The state legislature took a further step by allowing counties to compete for electing county status, offering a limited number of counties the opportunity to have greater control over local welfare policies, as well as greater control over available funding.  In prior years, there were numerous advantages to being an "electing" county.  These counties are given greater flexibility in establishing eligibility policies (which determine who is eligible to receive assistance and under what conditions), but the State has gradually amended the State plan to mirror policies recommended by counties vying for "electing" status.  

Mr. Boyd is expected to report that, at this time, the primary advantage for Catawba County in pursuing electing county status is financial.  The State pays 100% of cash assistance benefits for Work First eligible families in standard counties; however, as an "electing" county, Catawba would receive an allocation to utilize for cash assistance.  If the County's case load and payments to families increases to a level above the State allocation, the County would be required to cover 100% of the excess costs.  But if case loads decrease or remain stable, an electing county may use the unexpended cash allocation to offset other eligible program and/or administrative expenses.  Catawba County staff has analyzed spending patterns for the past three years, and project that it is possible to cover all assistance payments to families, as well as some additional costs associated with program administration currently being paid by County funds, with the fixed allocation that would be given to Catawba County as an "electing county".  The County chose to vie for electing county status as a result of this potential for saving County dollars.  On November 1, 2004, the County’s Electing County Plan for fiscal years 2005-2007 was submitted to State officials.  The General Assembly grants electing county status upon approval of the State budget, which has not yet occurred, however, all indications suggest Catawba County will be declared an "electing county".  

Regarding Medicaid and Medicare, Mr. Boyd is expected to report on the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.  Phase 1 of the Act created two pathways for Medicare recipients to use prior to the beginning of a prescription drug benefit in phase 2 of the Act: 1) Medicare approved drug discount cards with up to 25% savings on an array of prescription drugs; and 2) a transitional assistance program offering beneficiaries with low incomes up to $1200 credit toward the cost of drugs, through the discount card, over two years.  Although final data on the use of the discount card program is not available, 35 million persons are known to be eligible but only 6 million, fewer than 20%, enrolled.  More than half of those were automatic enrollments by Medicare HMOs or State drug assistance programs.  Only 1.5 million of the estimated 7 million persons eligible for the transitional assistance program have enrolled. 75% of eligible recipients are not receiving benefits.

Phase 2 of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 will become effective on January 1, 2006.  It will authorize the largest expansion of the Medicare program since its creation in 1965, offering recipients the option of prescription drug coverage for the first time.  Medicaid will no longer cover prescription drugs as of December 31, 2005.  This change will affect all current Medicaid recipients including those on both Medicare and Medicaid.  Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) will provide insurance coverage for prescription drugs and, like other insurance, will require a monthly premium (approximately $35 in 2006) and payment of a share of the cost of the prescriptions.  PDPs are expected to vary in the prescriptions covered and the amount a beneficiary must pay, as well as the pharmacies that may be used.  All plans must provide at least a standard level of coverage and additional drugs for a higher monthly premium.  PDP enrollment will begin on November 1, 2005 and end on May 15, 2006.  Information on approved PDPs will be available nationwide on October 15, 2005.  It will be included in the October Medicare and You 2006 handbook published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which will list all approved Medicare prescription drug plans in North Carolina.  This change will not bring any savings to Catawba County.  Federal law requires states to continue paying about the same amount as previously paid for Medicaid drug benefit.  North Carolina is passing the same share (15% of non-Federal cost) on to counties.

Recipients with limited incomes and resources will be eligible for additional help from a Low Income Subsidy that is projected to cover between 85% and 100% of expenses associated with drug coverage for many limited income beneficiaries.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will automatically enroll these persons in a PDP; however, all others qualifying for assistance will be required to select a drug plan.  North Carolina is one of eight states with the highest number of persons eligible for the Low Income Subsidy, 517,000, with only 245,000 currently receiving benefits.  It is estimated that Catawba County has approximately 3000 persons in this category.  The CMS has designated the U.S. Social Security Administration with lead responsibility for the program, along with the Senior Health Insurance Information Program, Social Services, Area Agencies on Aging and local agencies such as the Council on Aging and Senior Centers.  

Mr. Boyd will report that Catawba County has over 18,000 seniors who are Medicare recipients, as well as eligible disabled citizens not currently receiving benefits.  The medical community, health care professionals, provider agencies and pharmacies all have key roles in a successful transition to this program.  A community response is vital to insure information, education and assistance are provided to all eligible persons.  Social Services has invited a group of potential community partners to meet to develop a plan to address these needs within the time frame required for action.  

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER    465-8464