STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA     )                    OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONERS

                                                            )                    STOKES COUNTY GOVERNMENT

COUNTY OF STOKES                  )                    DANBURY, NORTH CAROLINA

                                                            )                    JANUARY 6, 2007

 

 

 

           

            The Board of Commissioners of the County of Stokes, State of North Carolina, met

 

for a scheduled Board Retreat session in the Commissioners’ Chambers of the Ronald Wilson

 

Reagan Memorial Building (Administrative Building) located in Danbury, North Carolina on

 

Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 9:00 am with the following members present:

 

                                                Chairman Leon Inman

                                                Vice-Chairman Jimmy Walker

Commissioner Ron Carroll                                              

Commissioner Ernest Lankford

                                                Commissioner Stanley Smith

 

                                                County Personnel in Attendance:

                                                Clerk to the Board/Interim County Manager Darlene Bullins

                                                Finance Director Julia Edwards

                                   

 

Chairman Leon Inman called the meeting to order.

 

Chairman Inman delivered the invocation.

 

GENERAL GOVERNMENT-GOVERNING BODY-PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

 

            Chairman Inman opened the meeting by inviting the citizens in attendance to

 

join the Board with the Pledge of Allegiance. 

 

            Chairman Inman welcomed those in attendance to the Board Retreat.

 

            Chairman Inman requested each Board member to briefly express what they hoped

 

to gain from today’s Board Retreat:

 

            Commissioner Carroll:  Express ideas, see where we are, and where we want to go –

                                                    set a road map

            Commissioner Lankford: Establish a vision statement – for 2 years, 4 years – vision

                                                     to include the total county – establish goals and objectives

            Vice Chairman Walker:   Agree with a vision – planning for today and the future

            Commissioner Smith:    Setting down in this type of planning meeting and openly

                                                   discussing county issues to develop a long range plan and a

   vision for the County

 

Review of County’s Financial Status

 

            Interim County Manager Darlene Bullins presented a copy of the letter received from

 

the NC Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Controller which stated that

 

the Stokes County Single Audit Report for Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2006 had been

 

accepted by the Secretary of the Local Government Commission and that no corrective

 

action plan is necessary and resolution of this audit is closed with respect to programs of

 

financial assistance administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

            Interim Manager Bullins also presented a copy of the letter from the NC Department

 

of State Treasurer which reports as of June 30, 2006, the amount of available fund balance

 

was $3,496,416 or 8.74% of total expenditures which has increased from 7.90% reported for

 

the fiscal year June 30, 2005.  Statewide average fund balance available for comparably sized

 

counties is 27.62% (fund balance as of 06-30-04).  The State Treasurer does request that the

 

County submit a letter to indicate the County’s plans to continue to increase the fund balance.

 

            The County requested the Interim Manager to request a list of comparably sized

 

counties that Stokes County is compared to and what type of plan LGC is expecting from the

 

County.  The Board discussed the County’s fund balance.

 

            Interim Manager Bullins presented a Tax Administration Collection status of Friday,

 

January 5th representing collection to date = $14,305,086.87

 

            Finance Director Julia Edwards briefly discussed the following reports:

 

·         2005-06 final budget compared to 2006-07 budget

·         Financial Report for Oct. Nov. and December 2006 detailing current expenditures and revenues

·         Tax Levy

·         NC Association of County Commissioners 2006-07 Tax Rate Survey

·         Comparison of Legal services for Fiscal years 2003-04; 2004-05; 2005-06; and 2006-07

·         County’s desire to consult with a financial advisor to create a committee to possibly include the School Superintendent, School Finance Director, County Manager, County Finance Director and financial advisor to develop a plan for school construction and capital needs for the County and how the County will pay for these items

·         Inventory Tax which sunsets 2011-12

·         Debt Schedule as of June 30, 2005

·         Debt Schedule of  December 31, 2006

·         Public School Building Capital Fund – Current Fiscal Year 2006-07

·         Public School Building Capital – Fiscal Year 2006-07 – ADM and Lottery Fund

·         Public School Building Capital Fund – Special Summary – ADM Fund

·         Estimated Lottery Distribution

·         County’s rating remains the same A1 with Moodys and A with Standard Poore

 

Review of First Quarter Revenue and Expenditure Review / Review of 2006 Budget Retreat

 

            Interim Manager Bullins briefly reviewed the First Quarter Revenue and Expenditure

 

review conducted by Mr. Dennis Thompson, Consultant on October 24, 2006.  Mr.

 

Thompson’s opinion revealed that there were no significant budget errors and projects that the

 

County will end the fiscal year “in the black” barring negative events that cannot be foreseen. 

 

Projections do expect growth in the fund balance.

 

            Interim Manager Bullins also included for the Board the minutes of the 2006 Budget

 

Retreat-February 25, 2006; Special Session for Economic Development-March 20, 2006; and

 

Special Session for Mental Health Issues-March 22, 2006

 

            Interim Manager Bullins requested if the Board desired to have Mr. Dennis Thompson

 

or internal staff to conduct the Second Quarter Review.  The Board directed internal staff

 

to conduct the Second Quarter Review.

 

OPEN DISCUSSION AND STRATEGIC PLANNING

 

REVIEW OF COUNTY DEPARTMENTS

 

User Friendly Departments

           

            The Board discussed the County having user-friendly departments. The Board

 

unanimously agreed that Stokes County will provide user friendly departments for all citizens

 

of Stokes County starting with the Board of Commissioners.

 

            The Board directed the Interim County Manager to express to each Department Head

 

the following:

 

·         Expectation that all county employees would treat citizens with dignity and respect

·         Professionalism throughout the entire department starting with department heads

·         Listen and try to help solve the citizens’ complaint/problem if possible

·         Explain rules and regulations tactfully to the citizens with respect and courtesy

 

The Board discussed possibly speaking directly to department heads at a later time.

 

The Board discussed the current procedure for citizens to express complaints

 

regarding county departments.

 

            Interim County Manager Bullins explained that citizens’ complaints are handled by

 

the County Manager’s office directing complaints to either department heads or county

 

commissioners as appropriate.

 

Commissioner Carroll volunteered to help develop a county formal grievance policy

 

which departments will have available to present to citizens who have complaints.

 

Recreation

 

            Commissioner Walker requested to look at the recreation needs that are not

 

being currently addressed around the County.  Commissioner Walker noted the current

 

arrangement with the YMCA, looking at possibly continuing certain programs, but the need

for a department within the county for recreation and parks.  A department that will

 

be responsible to strengthen recreation, create more recreation opportunities for citizens,

 

and possibly seek grant opportunities for parks.

 

            Commissioner Walker also noted the need for recreation centers around the county for

 

the youth.

 

            The Board discussed the current recreation programs being operated by the

 

YMCA, the current contract, and the volunteers who support the recreation programs

 

provided the youth in the county.  The Board requested additional information regarding the

 

programs being operated by the YMCA.

 

Review of legal needs

 

            Commissioner Lankford requested information regarding the current arrangement

 

for legal services for the County noting the need to compare the financial expenditures of

 

having a staff attorney or continuing to contract the services.        

 

            Finance Director Julia Edwards presented documentation regarding the expenditures

 

for fiscal year 2003/04; fiscal year 2004/05; fiscal year 2005/06; and partial fiscal year

 

2006-07.   Finance Director Edwards noted that all DSS services were being provided by

 

outside legal representation, not the county attorney.

 

            The Board discussed the current contract with the county attorney.

 

The Board agreed further discussion would be needed at budget time.

 

REVIEW OF COUNTY FACILITIES

 

Utilization of County owned property

 

            Commissioner Smith expressed the need to look at all county owned property

 

especially property not being utilized.

 

Commissioner Smith noted the to need to explore the old prison camp site for possible

 

use as a satellite community college, a county department, or even renting the facility.

 

            The Board discussed evaluating all county property and facilities, performing a current

 

needs assessment, and preparing a future needs assessment emphasizing what could be housed

 

in the vacant facilities.  The Board also discussed the need for all commissioners to tour

 

facilities before determining the true assessment of each facility.

 

            The Board also noted the need to determine space needs for county departments before

 

determining a true needs assessment of facilities.

 

County Manager’s Vacant Position

 

            The Board discussed the current vacant county manager’s position.

 

            Interim County Manager Bullins noted the following regarding the vacant position:

 

·         Deadline January 31, 2007

·         Contacted all applications received before the re-advertisement

to determine interest in the position

·         12 applications interested in the position to date

·         Advertised Stokes News, Winston Salem Journal (Top Jobs), Greensboro Daily News (Career Builder), Raleigh Times, NCACC, NACO, County Lines, County Manager’s server, and county website

 

Economic Development

Utilities including water/sewer and infrastructure

 

            Commissioner Carroll noted the need to create infrastructure to recruit businesses to

 

Stokes County, bottom line-“it takes money to make money”.

 

            The Board discussed the need to evaluate and determine the reasonable places that

 

are going to be appropriate for business growth, and what is needed to add to those areas

 

to make them more attractive.

 

            The Board discussed possibly looking at the #311 corridor, Pinnacle area, and

 

#65 Germanton/Walnut Cove area.

 

            Commissioner Walker noted the need to include the Water and Sewer Authority.

 

Commissioner Walker also noted the need to evaluate the possibility of regional utilities

 

systems for the future.

 

            The Board discussed the role of the Water and Sewer Authority, its membership,

 

non-profit status, and its connection with the county.

 

            Chairman Inman noted the recent allocation of county funding for the countywide

 

feasibility study currently being performed.  Chairman Inman noted the feasibility study

 

should provide valuable information regarding future needs of the County and that the

 

feasibility study could possibly help secure available grants.

 

            Commissioner Carroll noted that infrastructure does not only include water and sewer,

 

it includes parks/recreation, libraries, schools, arts, healthcare, roads, etc.

 

            Commissioner Walker expressed the need for a needs assessment relating to 

 

adequate parks, libraries, schools, arts, healthcare, etc. in Stokes County.

 

            The Board discussed the importance to become independent- not depending on

 

neighboring counties for water, waste disposal, etc. and the possibility of water intake from

 

the Dan River.

 

            The Board requested information regarding the Water and Sewer Authority and

 

any available information from the feasibility study.

 

Landfill off #311 – Joint venture with Waste Management

                       

            Commissioner Smith requested information regarding a proposed MSW and C&D

 

landfill on Duke Power property discussed several years ago.  Commissioner Smith noted the

 

$1 million dollars incurred by Stokes County with waste disposal last year.

 

            The Board requested any available information regarding the issue.

 

            The Board also discussed reviewing all solid waste issues within the county, current

 

and future needs looking at all possibility detailing the amount of waste disposed of by

 

Stokes County annually.

 

HEALTH CARE ISSUES

 

Reopening of the King Clinic

 

            The Board discussed the following issues relating to the reopening of the King Clinic:

 

·         Need for a Clinic in the King area

·         History of the King Clinic

·         Staffing issues at the Health Department

·         High priority issue to reopen

·         King Clinic budget for fiscal year 2006-07

·         Need for Clinic to be self supportive

·         Clinic should be operative with not taking anything away from the rest of the county

·         DSS also staffed offices at the same location certain days of the week

 

The Board unanimously agreed that the reopening of the King Clinic was an

 

immediate need.  The Board directed the Interim County Manager to request information

 

from the Health Director regarding the status of the King Clinic.

 

Stokes Reynolds Memorial Hospital

 

            Commissioner Walker requested the Board look at all options pertaining to providing

 

the best medical facilities and services for the entire county and the cost factors involved in

 

providing medical services for the county. 

 

            The Board discussed the following regarding Stokes Reynolds Memorial Hospital:

 

·         Medical services for the northern side of the county

·         A possible committee to evaluate the medical needs of the county

·         Daily use of the hospital facility

·         Need for the hospital facility

·         Health Services Alliance’s main objective to evaluate all medical needs in the County

·         Look for ways to improve medical services for the county if possible

·         Look for ways to work together to bring the best medical services to the County

 

Commissioner Carroll noted that the citizens of Stokes County had voted twice that

 

Stokes County would operate a hospital to the point of saying that the County would

 

subsidize with tax money (approximately up to a 10-cent tax rate according to the original

 

bond referendum). 

 

Health Services Alliance

 

            The Board discussed the need for Health Services Alliance to look at the delivery of

 

health services in Stokes County.

 

Veterans Services in Stokes County

 

            Commissioner Lankford noted the need for a Veteran’s clinic in Stokes County.

 

Veterans Services will be opening 10 more clinics in the future in North Carolina and

 

the need to be prepared to lobby for a clinic in Stokes County.   Health Services Alliance is

 

currently investigating the possibility of locating a Veterans’ clinic in Stokes County.

 

Mental Health Issues

 

            Commissioner Carroll expressed concerns regarding whether Stokes County residents

 

are receiving the best mental health services that are available.

 

            The Board discussed the following regarding mental health services:

 

·         Current mental health services available

·         Tele-medicine currently being provided by Daymark

·         The need to evaluate mental health services in the County

·         Other issues to consider besides First Opinion Waiver

·         Funding being allocated versus services being provided

·         Need to express concerns to State Legislators regarding the recent mental health reform

           

The Board agreed the immediate need to evaluate the current delivery of mental health

 

services in Stokes County.

 

Staff Personnel Classification and Salary Study

 

            Commissioner Carroll requested to discuss Item H on the agenda – Staff Personnel

 

Classification and Salary Study.  Commissioner Carroll noted the need for a true structured

 

salary schedule for county personnel in order to be fair and consistent to all employees.

 

A true salary schedule, which would also eliminate department heads from having to come

 

before the Board of Commissioners requesting a specific salary. A structured salary schedule

 

would pinpoint a clear starting salary depending on education and experience, set rules and

 

guidelines for all departments, be fair and consistent for all county employees, and most

of all provide a schedule that all employees can understand. 

 

Chairman Inman noted that this type of schedule removes the subjectivity and

 

places the salary in an objective category.

 

            The Board discussed the need to develop a structured salary as a top priority.

 

Commissioner Carroll and Commissioner Lankford volunteered to head up a committee

 

to develop a structured salary schedule.  Commissioner Carroll noted that this type of

 

structured schedule would not replace the need for a classification study in the future, this

 

type of schedule does not dictate where a specific job falls on the salary classification grade.

 

The suggested structured salary schedule would also review all current employees’ salaries.

 

            The Board also discussed the possibility of the need for a true salary classification

 

study which reviews job grades, job descriptions, surrounding counties’ salaries, like size

 

counties’ salaries, job relationships, and what grade a specific job should be placed on.

 

EMS – Location of Units in Fire Departments and EMS Billing Collections

 

            Commissioner Smith expressed the possibility of EMS stations being located in Fire

 

Departments.

 

            The Board discussed the following regarding the EMS Stations:

 

·         $50,000 in contingency for a new EMS Station

·         Locating EMS Stations in Fire Departments

·         Two units being housed in same location in Pinnacle

·         Current response time for units

·         The need to offer the best EMS Service available for the citizens of the County

·         Lawsonville EMS currently located in the Lawsonville Vol. Fire Department

·         Available land on Chestnut Grove that could be used for a possible EMS station

·         Convalescent calls in the Stokes County

·         Meeting the needs of the citizens of Stokes County

 

The Board noted the need to evaluate the current EMS locations within the County.

 

The Board also discussed the following regarding the current EMS Billing Collection:

 

·         Current county EMS Collection procedures

·         Unpaid invoices being turned over to the Tax Department for collections

·         Issue of unpaid invoices that are turned over to the Tax Department and becoming a tax

·         Other options of collecting overdue EMS invoices

 

The Board directed Interim County Manager to seek a legal opinion from the County

 

Attorney regarding discontinuing the current method of transferring overdue EMS invoices to

 

the Tax Department and to look at the current EMS Collection Procedure.

 

 

 

            Finance Director Julia Edwards noted the County has the capability to attach the

 

unpaid EMS invoices to the citizens’ NC State Tax Refund.  The Board discussed the

 

possibility of further investigating this option.

 

Tourism – Motel and Conference Center in or near Danbury

 

            Commissioner Smith noted the need for a motel/conference center in or near Danbury.

 

            The Board discussed the following regarding tourism:

 

·         Great places to visit in the County, but no where to stay overnight

·         Need to investigate/survey whether there is a need for such a facility

·         To advance tourism, the county must have facilities for people to stay

·         Current status of the Stokes County Tourism Council

·         The need for tourism to produce revenue for the County

·         Area tourism sites in Stokes County

 

Interim County Manager Darlene Bullins updated the Board regarding the Regional

 

Tourism Initiative meeting that was tentatively scheduled in Stokes County.  The meeting

 

was originally scheduled for 40 to 50 individuals, the meeting had grown to possibly having

 

approximately 80 to 100 individuals over the Christmas holidays. The facility (King

 

Recreation Acres) could not accommodate that number of individuals. The County could not

 

locate a facility that was available for the specific date that was already scheduled, the County

 

would consider hosting another meeting later in the year. 

 

            The Board requested any available information from the Interim County Manager

 

regarding the Regional Tourism Initiative.

 

Historical Preservation

 

            Commissioner Walker noted the valuable historical buildings in Stokes County and

 

the asset of the Stokes County Historical Society in helping to preserve the historical

 

buildings within the County.

 

            Commissioner Walker noted the need to try to help preserve Sheppard’s Mill located

 

in Danbury, the possibility of adopting an ordinance to help preserve historical buildings, and

 

the need to take steps to start preserving historical buildings before they are gone.

 

            The Board discussed the value of the historical buildings, sites, etc relating to tourism.

 

The Board requested the Interim County Manager to provide the Board with an update

 

from the Economic Development Director regarding any proposed projects dealing with

 

motels/facilities, etc within the County.

 

 

 

 

Continuation of Board Retreat

 

            The Board unanimously agreed to set another date at the January 8th meeting to

 

complete the January 6th agenda that was not discussed at today’s Board Retreat.

 

Adjournment

 

            There being no further business to come before the Board, Chairman Inman

 

entertained a motion to adjourn the meeting.

 

Commissioner Lankford moved to adjourn the meeting.  The motion was

 

unanimous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________                                  _____________________________

Darlene M. Bullins                                                    J. Leon Inman

Clerk to the Board                                                       Chairman