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September 6 , 2005

AGENDA 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Tuesday, September 6, 2005,  9:30 a.m.
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse
30 North College Avenue, Newton, NC

1.    Call to Order.

2.    Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

3.    Invocation.

4.    Approval of the Minutes from the Special Joint Meeting with Claremont and Catawba Councils of August 15, 2005 and the Regular Meeting of August 15, 2005.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentations:
a.    Presentation of Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.  Presented to Rodney Miller, Finance Director.

b.    Fall Litter Sweep Proclamation.  Presented to Henry Hilton, Litter Task Force Chair and Amanda Kain, Waste Reduction Coordinator.

c. Update to the August 2000 Strategic Plan for Emergency Services.  Presented by David Weldon, Director, Emergency Services.
8.    Appointments.

9.    Consent Agenda:
a.    Supplemental Appropriation for Radio Purchase for Emergency Services Response Agencies.

b.    Mental Health Budget Revision


c.    State Economic Development Grant funds appropriation to Getrag Corporation.


d.    Timber Sale – Blackburn Landfill.


e.    Waiver of Permit Fees for 2005 Greater Hickory Classic. 

10.    Departmental Reports.
a.   Finance:
1.    Financing of $5,000,000 towards the purchase of medical equipment for Catawba Valley Medical Center.  Presented by Rodney Miller, Finance Director and David Boone, VP of Finance, Catawba Valley Medical Center.

2.    Sale of Surplus Property.  Presented by Rodney Miller, Finance Director.

b.   Purchasing:

    County Code Updates  - Chapter 30 Purchasing.  Presented by Debbie Anderson, Purchasing           Agent.

c.    Utilities and Engineering:

1.    Southeastern Catawba County Water Supply Loop Phase III Engineering Contract Award.  Presented by Jack I. Chandler, Public Services Administrator.

2.    Blackburn Subtitle D Landfill Cell Unit 3 Engineering Contract Award.  Presented by Jack I. Chandler, Public Services Administrator and Barry Edwards, Director, Utilities and Engineering. 
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
Board of Commissioners will meet with the Hickory, Brookford and Longview Councils in the Hickory Council Chambers from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Monday, September 19, 2005.  The regular Board of Commissioners meeting will take place in the Hickory Council Chambers at 7:00 p.m. on that date.
 

PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2005,  9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will
hear an update on the County's Strategic Plan for Emergency Services, a plan created in 2000 to evaluate the needs of the county with regard to fire, rescue, EMS, emergency communications and disaster preparedness and to take the County's emergency services to the year 2010; and consider awarding contracts for engineering services (design, permitting, the bidding process and bid awards) for both Phase III of the Southeastern Catawba County Water Supply Loop and a third cell for the Blackburn Subtitle D (lined) Landfill; and appropriate Federal grant funds for the purchase of radios needed by emergency service agencies across the county, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 6, 2005, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton. 

The Board will also consider appropriating funds from Federal Homeland security grant funds for the purchase of radios needed by emergency response agencies across the county; endorsing plans by Catawba Valley Medical Center to apply for a low interest loan for the purchase of new equipment, which would be paid entirely with hospital revenues; appropriating economic development funds received from the State specifically for the Getrag Gears expansion project; an amendment to the County Code to update thresholds the County uses for purchasing without formal bids to reflect a new State law that amends those thresholds; a revision to the Mental Health Services budget to reflect decreasing funds for certain contracts due to changes in the flow of Medicaid dollars, and an increased appropriation from the Mental Health Fund Balance to provide funds that may be needed for the department's financial settlement with the State for fiscal year 2002-2003; the proposed sale of County-owned property in the City of Hickory; the proposed sale of timber derived from the clearing of land for expansion to the Blackburn Landfill; and a waiver of normally charged permit fees for various activities associated with the Greater Hickory Classic golf tournament.

The Board will also issue a proclamation declaring September 17 through October 1, 2005 as Litter Sweep Weeks in Catawba County; and formally present the County's Finance Department with a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association, which the Finance Department has won for 23 straight years.
 
PRESENTATIONS

A. 
The Board will officially award the Catawba County Finance Department with a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), for the County's financial report for fiscal year 2003-2004.  The Finance Department has now won this award for 23 consecutive years.  Only about 10% of the more than 4000 governments in the GFOA have won the award for twenty or more consecutive years.  The certificate is presented to governmental units which the GFOA says "prepare and publish an easily readable, understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year."

B
.  The Board will issue a proclamation declaring September 17-October 1, 2005 as Litter Sweep Weeks in Catawba County.  During these weeks, citizens who bring trash collected from road sides, parks, lake sides and other common areas in special orange bags, or recyclable materials collected from the same areas in blue bags, to the Blackburn Landfill or one of the County's five convenience centers may dispose of the bags free of charge. Citizens may also call the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Maintenance Office at 828-466-5519 to arrange for pickup of bags.  Bags are available at the County Utilities & Engineering Department, on the second floor of the Government Center in Newton; the Cooperative Extension Office off Highway 321 Business in Newton; the N.C. Department of Transportation's Maintenance Office on Prison Camp Road, off Highway 321 Business north of Maiden; and at Garbage Disposal Service's office at 4062 Section House Road in Hickory.

C. 
The Board will receive an update from Emergency Services Director David Weldon on the County's Strategic Plan for Emergency Services.  Mr. Weldon is expected to brief the board on the history of the development of the plan, which was finalized in 2000 and designed to evaluate the needs of the county with regard to fire, rescue, EMS, emergency communications and disaster preparedness.  It addressed conditions and challenges facing the system and recommended actions to take the County's emergency services to the year 2010.

In 1999, Freeman White, Inc. was retained to develop a long-range, countywide strategic plan, to insure the best use of taxpayer money in the development of emergency services.  After meetings with stakeholders, rescue squad and fire department leadership, EMS personnel and Communications Center personnel, the plan was finalized and offered immediate, short term and long term recommendations toward meeting the goals of the Board of Commissioners to 1) provide a county-wide response time of not more than six minutes for medical first response and eight minutes for EMS and 2) secure the best long-term use of facilities, equipment, and personnel, both paid and volunteer.  An advisory committee comprised of emergency services stakeholders was created to assist in the implementation of the plan.

Since February 5, 2001, many of the thirteen immediate, five short-term and five long-term needs have been met.  Some of these include:
  • The Hickory Fire Department's assisting the Hickory Rescue Squad to provide first responder and basic rescue services within Hickory’s corporate limits, which resulted in a response time of no more than six minutes for first response.  This agreement is used as a model by other municipalities.
  • The Hickory Fire Department is currently providing first response in their district with an approximate average response time of four minutes and, although not currently contracted for rescue services, is equipped to provide rescue services as needed.
  • The County Code was amended to require house numbers to be visible from roadways for every home, business and major structures considered to be new construction, to insure emergency services personnel can locate the scene of an emergency.
  • To address concerns about the availability of ambulances, a replacement schedule for ambulances was created and put in place to assure ambulances remain operationally ready and County units are being used to replace rescue squad ambulances as required.
  • The County began implementing dedicated dispatch in the 911 Communications Center to assign at least one telecommunicator specifically to each area of emergency services: 1) EMS; 2) fire and rescue; and 3) law enforcement.   Further, seven additional telecommunicators were added to the staff to enhance Communication Center staffing.
  • Two additional persons were added to the County's Records Division, to shift some of the load of records keeping away from existing Communications Center personnel.
  • Eight full-time paramedics were added in order to have 24 hour ambulance coverage at the Propst and Sherrills Ford EMS bases, to aid in reducing overall response times to eight minutes.
  • The plan also recommended an analysis of the location of current bases and identification of strategic locations for future bases.  A new Oxford Fire/Claremont Rescue/Catawba EMS base was opened in 2004 off Highway 16 in the Oxford Community to better serve that area of the county.
Mr. Weldon is also expected to report on goals that remain to be met under the plan including:  1) development of a recruitment program for volunteer rescue personnel; 2) the establishment of district boundaries and an overall organization that best meets the county's emergency service needs and makes the best use of taxpayer dollars; 3) an examination of base locations that may be located in hazardous traffic areas; 4) the development of a five-year facility plan for Catawba County Emergency Services; 5) development of a fully effective interoperable radio communications system; and 6) the continued use of grant funds, whenever possible, to improve and enhance the County's emergency response system.

CONSENT AGENDA

A. 
The Board will consider appropriating $17,757 to purchase 24 mobile and 15 portable radios for emergency service response agencies.  The County recently awarded a bid to Two Way Radio of the Carolinas for 316 Motorola radios, using funds from Federal Homeland Security grants.  The bid specifications allowed the County to purchase additional radios from Two Way Radio of the Carolinas at the bid price for up to three months.  Because the unit price was less than budgeted, the County ordered 18 more mobile radios using the grant funds.  Response agencies in Catawba County requested, through the Emergency Services Planning Committee, that the County contact the vendor to see if it would honor the original $423 price for mobile radios and  $507 price for portable radios, if additional quantities were requested.  The vendor agreed to honor the pricing provided the County issued the requests on a purchase order.  Response agencies have submitted requests in writing, with the number of units desired (39) and a statement agreeing to reimburse the County upon receipt of the radios, which will allow more response agencies in the county to upgrade older, non-compliant radios at a significant savings.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve this appropriation.

B. 
The Board will consider a revision to the current budget for Mental Health Services to increase that budget by $438,751 bringing it to a total of $18,765,316.  Adjustments include the following: 1) a reduction of $404,227  to adjust certain contracts due to changes in the flow of Medicaid, Medicare and certain State funds. With direct enrollment of providers now in place, Medicaid Cap funds ($237,230), State Domiciliary Care funds ($36,000) and Medicare funds ($106,289) will flow directly to the provider and not through the Local Managing Entity,  the role Mental Health Services now plays after the State's mental health reform.  2) an increase of $842,978 appropriated from the Mental Health Fund Balance.  Each year, the State government reaches a settlement with mental health agencies, which receive substantial State funding, to reflect how much the local agencies actually spent.  All area mental health authorities across North Carolina are challenging the State’s approach to the financial settlement for fiscal year 2002-03.  Catawba County’s overall Tentative Settlement Report results for that year were $772,978.  Fund balance is being appropriated to cover the payback of that amount to the State, a figure that represents the County's worse case scenario.  $300,000 had previously been set aside as an estimated refund to be included in the overall settlement.  Also, $70,000 is being appropriated from the Mental Health Fund Balance to provide additional assistance to the Family N.E.T. program, to support shortfalls resulting from the transition to this program.  This budget revision adds no new positions and requests no additional County funding.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board approve this budget revision.

C. 
The Board will consider appropriating $76,000, received through a State grant, to the Getrag Corporation.  Getrag was awarded $76,000 from a One North Carolina Grant, through the NC Department of Commerce, to assist with Getrag's recent expansion, which resulted in the creation of 300 new jobs.  These funds are disbursed as a pass-through grant to the local government where the business is sited.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board appropriate these State grant funds to Getrag Corporation.  

D. 
The Board will consider declaring approximately 31 acres of timber at the Blackburn Landfill site as surplus, and authorize the sale of the timber by sealed bid.  The Blackburn Landfill has approximately 31 acres of heavily wooded property that needs to be cleared to make room for additional landfill space and removal of the soil.  The timber consists mainly of prime hardwood with an approximate value of $20,000. The soil is needed for future landfill operations that include daily cover, new cell construction, and cell closure.   Standing timber (to be cut by a buyer) is considered real property, most commonly sold through a timber deed in North Carolina.  North Carolina General Statute 160A-268 authorizes the sale of real property by sealed bid procedure.  County staff recommended the County contract with Raymond Taylor, Registered Forester, to conduct the sale for a fee of 8% of the proceeds. The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board declare the timber at the Blackburn Landfill as surplus and authorize its sale, by sealed bid procedure, through Taylor Forestry.

E. 
The Board will consider a waiver of applicable permit fees for the 2005 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. On August 10, the County received a request from Peter Fisch, Tournament Manager, to waive permit fees for the golf tournament, to be held at the Rock Barn Golf and Spa on October 3-9, 2005.  The request to waive permit fees is applicable only to the section of the Catawba County Fee Schedule entitled, "Utilities and Engineering, Building Permit Fees".  Approval will not negate permit issuance and inspections to protect the safety, health and welfare of citizens and visitors to Catawba County.  The waived permit fees are estimated to be $5000.   The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board waive the applicable permit fees.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

FINANCE

1. 
The Board will consider approving a financing plan, in the amount of $5,000,000, for the purchase of medical equipment for Catawba Valley Medical Center (CVMC).  The hospital is requesting funds to purchase digital mammography units, a CT scanner, a vascular suite and general health care equipment.  CVMC borrowed funds through the NC Medical Care Commission Pool Loan for major equipment purchases in 2000 and 2003.  Administration fees associated with the Medical Care Commission Pool Loan have since increased, so CVMC also solicited proposals from BB&T and Wachovia Bank.  BB&T proposal's was the most competitive, with a 59-month term and fixed interest rate of 3.99%. The County will technically borrow the funds under the provision of North Carolina General Statute 160A-20, with the equipment pledged as collateral on the loan.  CVMC will be responsible for repayment of the loan with revenues derived from operations.  No County funds will be obligated. The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board endorse the proposed financing plan.

2.
The Board will consider declaring property located at 445 3rd Street, SW in Hickory as surplus and selling it to the City of Hickory for $1450.  As a result of a judgment issued against the former property owner, the County obtained the property in January 2001.  The County does not have any use for the property at this time or in the foreseeable future.   Mr. Richard Lee Giles of Lincolnton, NC made an offer of $1450 to purchase this property in July 2005 and submitted a deposit of $75.  On August 8, 2005, the Policy and Public Works Subcommittee reviewed this matter and instructed the Finance Director to determine any interest in the property by adjacent property owners.  Upon learning that the City of Hickory owns property adjacent to the subject property, Hickory city officials were contacted to gauge their interest in the property.  On August 18, 2005, the County received a letter from the City of Hickory acknowledging their interest in purchasing this property for $1450, to promote affordable housing and improve home ownership opportunities in the Ridgeview community.  NC General Statute 160A-274 permits property exchanges among local governments without the formal procedural requirements associated with other dispositions of government property, and with or without monetary consideration. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board declare the property as surplus and approve its sale to the City of Hickory for $1450. If approved, the County will refund the $75 deposit to Mr. Giles.

PURCHASING
The Board will consider updating the County Code, Chapter 30, Purchasing to reflect changes in State law regarding thresholds at which government agencies are required to take formal bids for purchases.  In 2002, Senate Bill 914 changed the base threshold for formal purchases from $50,000 to $90,000.  At that time, Catawba County elected to keep its base threshold at $50,000.   On July 27, 2005, North Carolina House Bill 1332 became law.  This bill increased the base informal threshold allowed under NC General Statute 143-131 from $5,000 to $30,000.  This means that, effective July 27, 2005, there are no statutory bidding requirements for contracts below $30,000.  The bill also increased the threshold so that property valued at less than $30,000 (formerly $5,000) may now be sold using informal procedures, under General Statute 160A-266(c).  Under the current code, the County Manager has authority to dispose of surplus property valued at less than $5,000.  The new regulation increases that threshold to $30,000, allowing for items to be sold by electronic auction on a routine basis.  House Bill 1332 also authorizes the use of electronic advertising for piggybacking contracts under General Statute 143-129(g), and for electronic auction of surplus property under General Statute 160A-270(c).  The County uses its internet site for electronic advertising for formal bids and surplus.  The new law will also permit electronic advertising for formal surplus auctions and the use of the piggyback exemption without newspaper advertisement.  House Bill 1332 also changes the minority outreach requirements for construction to match the new thresholds.  Minority outreach is now required for construction projects beginning at $30,000 (formerly $5,000).

Staff proposes the following new thresholds for the County: an informal bid range of between $5,000 and $90,000 for the purchase of supplies and equipment, and between $30,000 and $300,000 for construction; a formal bid range of $90,000 and above for the purchase of supplies and equipment and $300,000 and above for construction, with the County Manager having authority to award bids on projects approved for the County budget and valued at between $90,000 and $250,000, and to dispose of surplus property valued at between $10,000 and $30,000.  The County's Purchasing Agent would have authority to dispose of surplus property valued at less than $10,000.  The County would be required to make a good faith effort to include minority-owned companies in bidding for all construction projects above $30,000.  The recommended informal bid threshold is lower than the law requires because staff believes this will insure the County continues to receive competitive pricing on purchases of supplies and equipment valued between $5,000 and $30,000.  The Purchasing Agent would have authority to waive a requirement that three quotes be obtained when it is deemed to be in the best interest of the County.  The County Manager will report to the Board on any bids awarded or rejected.  These changes are expected to expedite the procurement process for smaller projects already approved for the County budget.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the revision to the code be approved.  

UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
A. 
The Board will consider an engineering contract between Catawba County and Hayes, Seay, Mattern & Mattern, Inc. in the amount of $240,000, for design, bidding, and bid award of the Southeastern Catawba County (SECC) Water Supply Loop, Phase III.  The SECC Water Supply Loop is being developed in three separate but codependent phases.  Phase I, also known as the Highway 150 water line, is complete and in service.  Phase II engineering and design is complete, and plans have been approved by the NC Public Water Supply Section.  Staff is in the process of acquiring necessary easements for the Phase II water line, prior to bidding.

NC General Statute 143-64.31 governs solicitation of engineering services by local governments. Under the terms of the statute, staff issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) which was sent to numerous engineering firms, and advertised on the County’s internet site.  Thirteen statements of qualification were received.  A committee consisting of Utilities and Engineering Director, Barry Edwards; Public Services Administrator, Jack Chandler; Purchasing Agent, Debbie Anderson; and City of Hickory Engineer, Kevin Greer, reviewed the RFQs and determined the County should more closely examine the RFQs of Hayes, Seay, Mattern & Mattern, Inc.; McGill Associates; and Camp Dresser & McKee.  Because of the committee members’ familiarity with these three firms, interviews were not required.  Hayes, Seay, Mattern & Mattern was recommended because it performed a study of the City of Hickory water system's elevated storage tanks, and a water quality study and resulting upgrades at Hickory's Water Treatment Plant including a new sodium hypochlorite disinfection system. This knowledge will prove invaluable in designing the pump station and storage tank for the SECC loop and identifying any potential water quality issues since the loop will convey water to the furthest point in Hickory's water distribution system. Hayes, Seay Mattern and Mattern was also recommended because of its thorough knowledge of the telemetry system used at Hickory's Water Treatment Plant which will facilitate design, installation and start-up of the telemetry package for the storage tank and pump station in this phase of the loop.  The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the contract with Hayes, Seay, Mattern and Mattern.

B. 
The Board will consider an engineering contract between Catawba County and McGill Associates, PA, in the amount of $326,400, for design, permitting, bidding, and bid award of the Blackburn Subtitle D Landfill Cell Unit 3, Phase 1.  In accordance with State law and in keeping with Catawba County’s rich history of environmental awareness, the County began using Subtitle D (lined) landfill cells in 1998.  State law only allows for permits for lined cells for a five year period of time.  Catawba County is now moving into the design of the third five-year Subtitle D landfill cell for the Blackburn Landfill.  NC General Statute 143-64.31 governs the solicitation of engineering services by local governments.  Under the terms of this statute, staff issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) on March 21, 2005, which was sent to numerous engineering firms and advertised on the County’s internet site.  Six statements of qualification were received on April 12 from Camp Dresser & McKee, Raleigh, NC; G.N. Richardson & Associates, Raleigh, NC; McGill Associates, Hickory, NC; Municipal Engineering, Charlotte, NC; SCS Engineers, Charlotte, NC; and S&ME, Charlotte, NC.  A selection committee, consisting of Utilities and Engineering Director, Barry Edwards; Public Services Administrator, Jack Chandler; Purchasing Agent, Debbie Anderson; Landfill Projects Manager, Tommy London; and Landfill Superintendent, Rodney Hamby reviewed the RFQ’s.  Based on the committee members’ familiarity with these firms, interviews were not required.

Staff recommends McGill Associates, since the firm is familiar with the County’s Solid Waste Management Plan and has been instrumental in County solid waste projects and planning. McGill Associates’ performed the engineering work on the Subtitle D Landfill Cell, Unit 2 with a high level of efficiency. It has successfully assisted the County in previous solid waste projects and represented the County during the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources' plan review and permitting process.  All costs for this project will be paid from the County's Solid Waste Enterprise Fund, which is derived from solid waste tipping fees containing no tax proceeds. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve this engineering contract.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER    465-8464