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THE ANSON COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS convened for a recessed meeting Thursday, June 21, 2001 at 6:00 p.m. in Courtroom #1 located in the Anson County Courthouse. Commissioners present: Michael Livingston, Vice Chair Blake Hildreth Steve Lear Dr. Jim Sims Harold C. Smith Ross Streater Staff members present: Chris Wease, County Manager Bonnie M. Huntley, CMC, Clerk to the Board James Bennett, Human Resource/Asst. Co. Mgr. Rita James, Data Processing Vice Chair Livingston called the meeting to Order. He announced that Chairman Thacker was spending the evening with his new granddaughter born last night. Motion by Commissioner Streater, seconded by Commissioner Sims, to approve the Agenda for tonight’s meeting. Motion carried unanimously. Budget Amendments: County Manager Wease noted in the packet were some last minute budget amendments to clear out this FY as required by the auditors. The first amendment is to establish a separate fund for the housing grant we received for urgent repairs through the NC Finance Agency. The county’s match of $5,000 is budgeted for the coming year. The second amendment includes the following: amends the Assessor’s budget to provide for business/personal property audit payments and the final payment of aerial photography; amends the Collector’s budget to provide for a tax refund to Wal-Mart due to an erroneous double billing; increases court facilities due to maintenance items; the Sheriff’s budget is over in the salaries line item; Autopsies are over budget; amends the ACTS budget to provide for the compensation by the insurance company on a wrecked vehicle, amends the Airport budget to pay an insurance bill that was not budgeted this FY and the state school bonds amendment is a wash. Commissioner Sims asked for an explanation on the Sheriff’s issue with County Manager Wease noting that a revision was done in February to cover overtime prior to the memo going out telling all departments to use compensatory time rather than over time. Prior to that they had a number of emergencies and issues that required overtime. Vice Chair Livingston called for a motion to approve the amendment. No motion was made. Tax Releases: Motion by Commissioner Streater, seconded by Commissioner Sims, to approve the tax releases as presented. Motion carried unanimously. Vehicle Tax Releases: Jun 01 Adams, Willie Patrick 2000 51.97 Value Alcauter, Artemio 1999 3.33 Proration Allen, Caroly 1998 148.70 Proration Allen, Carolyn Burnette 2000 26.73 Proration Anastas, William Lee 2000 18.36 Proration Atkinson, Benjamin 1998 13.00 Proration Brink, Ret Allen 1999 27.34 Proration Brown, John Edwards 1998 1.68 Proration Callahan, Stewart Earl 2000 46.08 Value Capel, Jocelyn 2000 16.96 Situs Caple, Brian K 1999 3.69 Proration Carter, Rickey D 2000 26.49 Proration Chewning, Glenn Hart 2000 6.26 Situs Chewning, Roland W 2000 5.52 Proration Clarke, Matthew 2000 41.36 Proration Cowick Contract Service 2000 1.98 Proration Dorrah, Henry David 2000 33.84 Situs Edwards, David Wayne 2000 4.76 Value Edwards, Thomas S 2000 1.39 Interest Ellerby, Brian K 2000 26.05 Proration Evers, Sherry ann 2000 50.06 Proration Flowers, James Worth JR 1999 19.60 Proration Ford, Charles 2000 39.94 Proration Freeland, Lamar 2000 123.93 Proration Gaddy, Fay Scott 1999 29.97 Proration Galloway, Alice 2000 74.45 Value Harrington, Wincy 2000 6.72 Proration Hasty, Vickie & Carson 1998 51.54 Proration Hathcock, Edward G 1997 4.78 Proration Heilman, Thomas 1999 144.18 Proration Hinson, Kenneth W 2000 13.82 Value Hinson, Rosa Mae 2000 3.13 Situs Holmes, Sallie Lilly 1999 78.57 Proration Honeycutt, Gary Wayne 2000 33.50 Situs Horne, Phillip A 1999 26.64 Proration Howard, Wesley W 1998 3.00 Proration Huntley, David Neal 2000 94.61 Situs Joyner, Bobby Leonard 2000 126.22 Value Joyner, Bobby Leonard 2000 186.29 Proration Leckell, Melvin Eugene 2000 47.10 Value Lee, Arnold Jefferson 2000 86.13 Proration Little, Cathelean 2000 64.57 Proration Little, Henry Wall III 2000 29.48 Situs Little, Oscarlee Waddell 2000 18.20 Situs Little, Tammy Pratt 2000 2.70 Situs Little, Tammy Pratt 2000 64.91 Situs Lowery, Joyce Williams 2000 32.33 Value Maner, Rita 2000 64.89 Proration Martin, Joseph Howard 2000 30.73 Situs McElroy, Deana M 1999 10.64 Proration Mitchell, Bernetta McRae 2000 7.04 Situs Moore, Curtis Wayne 2000 60.91 Situs Morris, Cora Lynn 2000 33.66 Proration Nancy, Leroy 2000 56.20 Proration Northcutt, Med C JR 2000 163.90 Proration Parks, Lloyd 2000 39.32 Proration Ricketts, Dennis James 1997 76.40 Proration Ricketts, Jacqueline 1997 17.57 Proration Smith, David 1998 14.60 Proration Sossamon, Donna 2000 35.70 Proration Spencer, Deric A 2000 56.94 Proration Tarlton, John Wesley 1998 89.56 Proration Thomas, Charles Edward 2000 57.14 Situs Thomas, James Steven 2000 15.45 Value Thomas, John Gilbert 1998 9.48 Proration Tucker, Patrick Alexander JR 1999 154.00 Situs Vaughn, Gary 1999 44.49 Proration Vernon, Jack S 2000 19.54 Situs Wall, Betty Ingram 1997 32.60 Proration Walters, Cheryl Meachum 2000 2.70 Situs Total $ 3,065.32 Vehicle Tax Adjustments: Jun-01 Capel, Jocelyn 2000 1.57 Situs Chewning, Glenn Hart 2000 0.58 Situs Dorrah, Henry David 2000 54.14 Situs Hinson, Rosa Mae 2000 3.75 Situs Honeycutt, Gary Wayne 2000 6.70 Situs Huntley, David Neal 2000 9.64 Situs Little, Henry Wall III 2000 3.00 Situs Little, Oscarlee Waddell 2000 1.69 Situs Little, Tammy Pratt 2000 2.40 Situs Little, Tammy Pratt 2000 57.70 Situs Martin, Joseph Howard 2000 3.13 Situs Mitchell, Bernetta McRae 2000 7.46 Situs Moore, Curtis Wayne 2000 3.38 Situs Vernon, Jack S 2000 1.80 Situs Walters, Cheryl Meachum 2000 0.28 Situs Total $ 157.22 Vehicle Tax Refunds: Jun-01 Capel, Edward D 2000 22.96 Proration Cowick Contract Service 2000 15.32 Proration Delp, Roger Dale 2000 76.44 Proration Diggs, Deorah L 2000 3.02 Proration Ford, Charles Sr 2000 6.47 Proration Ford, Charles Sr 2000 16.74 Proration Hagin, Leroy 2000 53.60 Proration Hutton, Norman James 2000 14.46 Proration Lee, Arnold Jefferson 2000 54.04 Proration Martin, Joe C 1999 9.27 Proration Martin, Varana 2000 6.20 Proration Meachum, Cecil Thomas JR 2000 18.97 Proration Rollins, Donald B 2000 13.44 Proration Total $ 310.93 Property Tax Releases: Jun-01 Bell, Samuel 1998 61.82 Listing Error Bell, Samuel 1999 67.46 Listing Error Bell, Samuel 2000 59.33 Listing Error Clark, James 1997 3.02 Listing Error Clark, James 1998 186.42 Listing Error Clark, James 1999 179.02 Listing Error Clark, James 2000 154.89 Listing Error Crowder, Otis Lee 1991 213.82 Listing Error Crowder, Otis Lee 1992 97.61 Listing Error Crowder, Otis Lee 1993 78.43 Listing Error Crowder, Otis Lee 1994 178.71 Listing Error Crowder, Otis Lee 1995 166.68 Listing Error Crowder, Otis Lee 1996 143.86 Listing Error Crowder, Otis Lee 1997 92.19 Listing Error Crowder, Otis Lee 1998 87.24 Listing Error Crowder, Otis Lee 1999 89.89 Listing Error Crowder, Otis Lee 2000 76.77 Listing Error Gearon Comm Tower 2000 2,058.85 Listing Error Graham, Arnold 1998 117.94 Listing Error Graham, Arnold 1999 117.94 Listing Error Graham, Arnold 2000 470.86 Listing Error Graham, Arnold 2000 101.04 Listing Error Rorie, Charlie Thomas 1993 265.61 Listing Error Rorie, Charlie Thomas 1994 302.56 Listing Error Rorie, Charlie Thomas 1995 271.47 Listing Error Rorie, Charlie Thomas 1996 248.83 Listing Error Rorie, Charlie Thomas 1997 183.68 Listing Error Rorie, Charlie Thomas 1998 169.15 Listing Error Rorie, Charlie Thomas 1999 163.87 Listing Error Rorie, Charlie Thomas 2000 141.60 Listing Error Thompson, Wilelmina 1997 220.80 Listing Error Thompson, Wilelmina 1998 217.12 Listing Error Thompson, Wilelmina 1999 207.43 Listing Error Thompson, Wilelmina 2000 179.66 Listing Error Total $ 7,375.17 Vice Chair Livingston stated that the Board would be discussing the budget and at some point in time he may open the floor for comments from those present. He noted it was rare to have so many people together to discuss the process and welcomed those present. County Manager Wease noted that included in each packet was a spreadsheet outlining adjustments to the budget proposal, which does not reflect a tax increase. A zero tax increase eliminates three positions and calls for a reduction to the Community College. The second spreadsheet is based on discussions from previous meetings that shows a 3.5 cent increase which does not provide for the elimination of any positions. Medicaid, an area where we have no control, is increasing an estimated $350,000. Another change from last year is the increase in the level of service provided by EMS, which increases our cost. The Hospital has a collection rate of 35-40%, which is better than when handled by the county. County Manager Wease noted that Union County’s collection rate is only 25%. Commissioner Sims asked to address those present. He wanted to address three items: taxes, economic development and South Piedmont Community College. He stated taxes are fairly high in Anson County and we have a lot of poor and elderly that paying higher taxes could put them in a financial crisis. He feels it is the responsibility of this Board to do everything they can to control taxes and keep the rate as low as possible. This year has brought some very unusual situations and most of them have occurred in Raleigh. They have withheld several hundred thousand dollars of reimbursements due the County. Medicaid, which is a good program, is growing so fast that next year it may be the largest single item in our budget. He reminded those present that those counties that are the poorest will be required to pay the most. The Federal Government should fund this program and almost all states operate that way except for nine. Commissioner Sims stated that when looking at taxes and problems this year, we are looking mainly at what happened in Raleigh. He has tried in every way to find ways to cut costs and save to reduce taxes. Commissioner Sims feels that if we are to grow and reduce taxes and increase services, it is obvious we need industry, businesses and new jobs. He feels it would be foolish to omit economic development and would not support cutting this position. He stated he has two concerns with the Community College. He wants to be sure that the Anson County taxpayer is being treated equal with the Union County taxpayer. He stated that several Trustees have assured him that with the merger, everyone is paying their fair share. The second issue is this is a tight budget year and if they are not going to use the West Knitting building we could save maintenance and custodial cost. Commissioner Sims noted he does not favor any of the decreases suggested for the college. Commissioner Streater voiced a concern for the public school renovating Central School at a cost of $500,000. He feels this money would be better spent at the Peachland/Polkton school to eliminate the mobile classrooms rather than renovating office space. County Manager Wease noted their proposal is to draw down some of the ADM money to the public school capital outlay fund and then supplant some of the sales tax accrued in that fund to provide for the renovations. Commissioner Streater asked could not that same money be used for building at Peachland. Dr. George Truman, School Superintendent, noted they are studying the conditions at Peachland. There are mobile units there but they do not house students on a regular basis. One is used for an art room, one for music, one is purely storage and several teachers use one for administrative space. Dr. Truman noted that the Peachland/Polkton school houses several programs that serve the entire county and they are looking to move these programs into other areas less crowded. They have projected building a building for this school at a cost of 3.2 million dollars. They are aware of the needs of all schools and are trying to determine what is best for the entire system. Dr. Truman noted that ADM money could only be used for capital improvements or to pay down debt service. Commissioner Streater had a concern for spending this amount of money for renovations and then next year they ask the taxpayers to pass a bond to build more schools. Commissioner Streater noted that the county is looking for office space and wondered if the county and schools could occupy the same building. Dr. Truman noted that had they not leased part of the Central School building to Head Start that certainly would have been a possibility. Commissioner Streater voiced that he thought $500,000 was too much to spend on an old building. Commissioner Lear voiced confidence in the school board and the school administration’s ability to make long range plans and he wants to do what is best for the children. He sees this as a necessary move as the present office is very inadequate and even dangerous. The move will also keep a school building from becoming vacant and because the county owns the present building, we could either move some county offices in or sell the property. He also wants to continue meeting with the school board to discuss long range planning. Dr. Truman noted they have plans for a specialist to come in and look at the demographics and needs and advise the direction they need to take. Vice Chair Livingston asked with the renovation and the cost to be incurred, could they not take the cost over a several year period rather than one year with Dr. Truman answering they have to work within their annual budget. Commissioner Hildreth noted he was provided an excellent two-hour tour of the Community College by the President and noticed a low utilization of classrooms during that period. He visited the campus between 12:30 and about 2:30 p.m. He realizes that morning and evening classrooms have better utilization and voiced a concern that the school has so many sites of operation when they have the facility to probably schedule all classes at the Polkton campus. Commissioner Hildreth feels this is an obvious under utilization of this facility and one of his concerns about the overall- operating budget of the Community College. Commissioner Sims offered that the Chairman of the Trustees has said that upon completion of the renovations, all classes would be consolidated to the Lockhart-Taylor building. Punky Morton stated that the classes currently being held at the Community Services Division uptown, will go to the Lockhart/Taylor Center. Classes that are currently in the Charles Craft facility, which are rent free, will go into the Lockhart/Taylor Center. They will be consolidated and then there will be classes only at Lockhart/Taylor and at the Polkton site, except for those at the prison. Commissioner Hildreth stated that promises to realize to some degree the economy he is looking for. Punky also noted that their function is to serve the students and the advantage of being able to go to school in the evening and work during the day is what makes it possible for some to attend who otherwise could not. They have to serve them when they can come and yes, during those hours you might say it goes into neutral until the evening hours when the students come back again. There is not really a way to force the student to come during those hours if they are employed. Punky also asked to address the concern about Union County. Commissioner Sims stated he never said anything about decreasing the money for the college but he did have an interest in making sure our taxpayers were being treated equal with Union County taxpayers. Punky said there is really not a whole lot equal about Anson and Union counties, population and those sorts of things. The point is the dollars in our budget in Anson County do not cross the border, they serve only the physical plant of keeping education delivered in Anson County. There is absolutely no sharing and we have nothing to do with what goes on over there. That is their own responsibility to maintain, insure and repair those facilities. Punky stated it is as if we were once again, Anson Community College, stand-alone by ourselves. It is the very same situation. We have to keep the lights and insurance on in our building so there is really no sharing. Punky also pointed out that in comparison, for example in Montgomery County the per capita is significantly higher in the Community College there. He stated that South Piedmont Community College is getting by on a shoestring. County Manager Wease noted that included in the packet is a break down where funds went for FY 99/2000 and FY 2000/01. Included is a per capita expenditure for the current FY which shows our per capital expenditure is much higher than that of Union, but Union has a higher population. There was much discussion of the Community College issue. Commissioner Lear noted his number one priority is to keep the tax rate as low as possible but also realizes that you get what you pay for. He does not feel that the Board can cut the Community College budget $180,000 and expect them to stay in business. He did ask that the Community College and any entity that receives county tax dollars to spend money as responsibly as possible as everyone will have to tighten the belt this year. Commissioner Lear feels we need the position of economic development to continue to attract new industry but is not sure we are spending money as responsibly as we need to in this area. He feels we would be spending our money more effectively and be more efficient with the dollars we spend if we were to merge the Human Resource position and the Economic Development position into one. Commissioner Lear noted that over the past several years the county has been using money from our savings account to balance the budget. This year we propose to spend $750,000 from fund balance and we can’t continue to do this. He is open to creative solutions to these problems but knows we can’t do this by eliminating essential things. Vice Chair Livingston feels we’ve had a great year with a 4.5% growth and a goal of raising the living standard of our employees. The little growth we’ve had is taken away through Medicaid and other programs and it’s hard to make decisions everyone agrees with. He realizes not everyone will benefit from decisions made by this Board but we need to provide services and move forward. Commissioner Hildreth realizes that one of the goals set by this Board was to hold the tax rate but as we look at the financial woes in Raleigh, it seems pretty bleak. He mentioned the agreement signed by some House members that they would not increase taxes so the idea of a favorable bill to reimburse the monies withheld from counties appears to be slim. He noted that counties and municipalities are creatures created by the State. Commissioner Hildreth stated he had received several calls concerning the Community College and the Economic Development Director position and almost everyone said they’d rather see a tax increase than to eliminate these. Commissioner Lear feels the County is fortunate to have a County Manager that is fiscally minded and does a great job with the dollars we have. Vice Chair Livingston noted this was not a public hearing but if anyone present would like to address the Board, they will have two minutes to speak. Elbert Marshall, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, challenged the Board to have political courage and take a stand for the people of Anson County. If taxes are raised this year, they should see a decrease next year as a result of revaluation. He feels we need the Community College and Economic Development as they are staple entities in this county that have made a major impact on the county. Susan Bridges, Bridge Over Troubled Waters in Morven, spoke in favor of the Community College. Education is very important and we need to do all we can to keep the boys and girls in school. Punky Morton was the next to speak, saying the following: I think we can all identify with your plight. We all have budgets to deal with on whatever scale and we know that the origins of your problem come from Raleigh and situations such as the hurricane and all that have caused things to put into a tailspin, budgets throughout the State. That points out another part of South Piedmont Community College’s plight because the funding for Community Colleges from the State level is severely limited. But getting back to the operational costs, South Piedmont Community College needs from Anson County $419,810. One dollar less and things begin to happen that are not good. We are not talking about just belt tightening problems, we are talking about catastrophic potential. Let me point out some of them. If we have to trim, the very next thing that has to come off is repairs. Repairs, obviously if they are not taken care of in time, will lead to greater things. Bigger than that, we are going to be reviewed by the accreditation committee and if we don’t pass our accreditation because we are not in repairs, we can’t be a school anymore. The next thing that has to go, after repairs and as our allotment comes down, is security. We will have to not pay guards to be on hand during class time. We all know what campuses across the nation face these days in terms of security and if something happens, then we haven’t done due diligence by having security on site. We are liable and who does that make liable, of course the county. If we don’t follow through with those two things, repairs and security, then the next things that has to come is we just have to cut classes. Where do those classes go? They go to our Union County campus, and suddenly we’ve become no longer fulfilling our part of the partnership. Union County will get the college, the very thing that we all feared when the merger talk was first beginning. Somehow or another, they would come out with the upper hand. We will be giving it to them if we don’t fulfill our obligations on this side of the border. So the ramifications are much greater than they appear. $419,810 is what it is gonna take, bare minimum to make the system work. He offered to answer any questions from the Board. Commissioner Sims asked if he was doing Southern Accreditation standing this year with Punky answering yes. The process is beginning and they will be reviewing every aspect of it. Punky said another thing is that we will send a message to Raleigh that the merger took place and we are falling short of our obligation and Union County will be served the very things that we feared. Vice Chair Livingston said when Raleigh calls, for Punky to tell them to send us the money and we will be glad to help you out. Another key point made by Punky is that he is a taxpayer, has considerable property holdings and the tax increase will hurt him as bad as anybody but he says it is fine with him if you increase taxes if it is necessary to keep the college where it should be. Carol Harrington, a night student at South Piedmont Community College, outlined for the Board how safe the security guard makes her feel walking to her car at night. She also stated that the College is fiscally responsible and does all they can to spend money wisely. She also noted that the College allows high school students to work on college credit while still in high school. She favors raising taxes to keep the Community College. John Poston noted he works for South Piedmont Community College but is speaking for himself. He feels the elimination of any item is taxing the college to take care of the needs for the whole county. He feels we need to address the issue of not only maintaining the education level of the county but to find ways to help it excel and advance. He feels the school is closely tied with economic development and without it companies will not want to come where their employees will be illiterate or untrained. Vice Chair Livingston called for a short break. After the break, Vice Chair Livingston commented that he heard lots of good ideas and thanked everyone for coming. Commissioner Sims was of the opinion we needed an interim budget and should wait until after the State completes all budgetary processes before adopting a regular budget. County Manager Wease commented that would certainly be a safe move but now leans towards a regular budget adoption. There was a discussion of the resignation of the Emergency Management Director and whether the position should be filled or left vacant. It was decided there may be some advantage to filling the position. There was also a discussion of the contract between the county and hospital for EMS. Commissioner Smith questioned the incentive to make them collect if we pay the difference between the cost of operation and revenues received. County Manager Wease suggested we have Mr. Thompson present an overview of the program. After much discussion of the budget and whether or not to present a tax increase, motion by Commissioner Sims to set the tax rate at 90 cents and in the motion he wants the people of Anson County to know that we have looked through this budget and looked through this budget and done everything that we can absolutely possibly do to make cuts and if we make anymore cuts it will endanger the citizens and children of Anson County and with the solid waste reduction most people will be paying less in total taxes this year than they paid last year and that we find the additional amount of money to cut the one-half cent. Motion seconded by Commissioner Lear. County Manager Wease mentioned that if we postpone the $24,000 for the ambulance until next year, that would be an immediate savings. Commissioner Sims felt it was not necessary to discuss the one-half cent as this was close enough. Commissioner Smith said he could not go along with the language of the motion to disturb the people of Anson County saying they would be in danger. Commissioner Sims agreed with Commissioner Smith and withdrew the danger and said it would certainly adversely affect the people. Commissioner Streater stated his personal opinion was that there is still fat in the budget. Vice Chair Livingston called for a vote on the motion. Motion carried 4 to 2 with Commissioner Smith and Commissioner Streater opposed. Vice Chair Livingston announced that the budget passed and the tax rate was set at 90 cents. He thanked everyone for their hard work. Commissioner Sims asked Mr. Holland of The Anson Record if he would mind posting tax rates of other counties in his article with Mr. Holland answering no he would not mind. County Manager Wease stated the auditors want us to specifically outline any cola included in the budget and asked for an amendment to the motion to specify the 4% cola included in the 90 cent budget. Motion by Commissioner Lear to amend the original motion to include the 4% cola for the employees effective July 8, 2001. Motion seconded by Commissioner Sims. Motion carried 4 to 2 with Commissioner Smith and Commissioner Streater opposed. Motion by Commissioner Lear, seconded by Commissioner Hildreth, to adjourn. Motion carried unanimously. Respectfully submitted: Bonnie M. Huntley, CMC Clerk to the Board Meeting time: 2 hr. 30 min.
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