STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA    )                    OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONERS

                                                            )                    STOKES COUNTY GOVERNMENT

COUNTY OF STOKES                     )                    DANBURY, NORTH CAROLINA

                                                            )                    JUNE 18, 2007

 

 

 

           

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

 

for a Budget Work Session regarding the Proposed Fiscal Year 2007-08 County Budget in the

 

Commissioners’ Chambers of the Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Building (Administrative

 

Building) located in Danbury, North Carolina on Monday, June 18, 2007 at 2:00 pm with the

 

following members present:

 

                                                Chairman J. Leon Inman

Vice-Chairman Jimmy Walker

Commissioner Ron Carroll                                           

Commissioner Ernest Lankford

                                                Commissioner Stanley Smith

                                                                                                                       

                                                County Personnel in Attendance:

                                                County Manager K. Bryan Steen

                                                Clerk to the Board 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. 

 

Budget Work Session

 

            Finance Director Julia Edwards presented the Board with an amended copy of the

 

proposed School-Capital Outlay and Capital Reserve which included the $180,000.00 for land

 

purchase. The amended copy also includes financing the PODS at Meadowbrook in order to

 

make more funding available in capital outlay.

 

            Chairman Inman requested Board members to note a possible tax rate to work from:

 

            Vice Chairman Walker – 60 cents

            Commissioner Lankford  - 60 cents with a few modifications

Commissioner Carroll – not ready to determine a number yet - need further discussion on several departments

Commissioner Smith - not ready to determine a number yet – need more discussion on several departments

            Chairman Inman – 60 cents if possible

 

            Commissioner Carroll noted the following departments that needed to be discussed:

 

·        Arts Council

·        Economic Development

·        Fire Marshal

·        Forsyth Technical Community College

·        Libraries

·        Public Buildings (Capital Projects)

·        Recreation

·        Forestry

·        Grower’s CoOp

·        Hold Harmless

·        Contingency Accounts – Salary Personnel

 

Commissioner Smith noted the following departments that needed to be discussed:

 

·        Economic Development

·        Environmental Health

·        Fire Marshal

·        Health Department

·        Libraries

·        Forestry

·        School Capital

·        Cooperative Extension

 

Chairman Inman requested Board members to note an estimated amount of hold

 

harmless revenue to be appropriated to fund balance in this fiscal year’s budget:

 

 

 

 

Commissioner Carroll = approximately $600,000

Commissioner Lankford =  approximately $300,000 to $400.000

Commissioner Smith = approximately $500,000

Vice Chairman Walker = approximately $300,000 to $350,000

Chairman Inman = approximately $300,000 to $400,000

 

Finance Director Julia Edwards noted that the Tax Administrator had given the

 

following projections:

 

·        New Growth in the County = additional value of $84,477,105.00 which could result in approximately $488,108.00 in ad valorem tax revenue

 

County Manager Bryan Steen noted that the collection rate is continuing to improve

 

which will reduce the collection of prior year tax revenue.  The county manager’s

 

recommended budget takes this into account by reducing the prior year tax revenue

 

projection.

 

            The Board discussed some possible savings on Medicaid expenditures if the State

 

gives Counties some relief from Medicaid expenditures. 

 

Finance Director Julia Edwards presented the following figures regarding Medicaid

 

expenditures:

 

·        Fiscal Year 2005/06 = $2,074,155

·        Fiscal Year 2006/07 = estimated at $2,391,230

·        DSS Director budgeted $2,582,310 for fiscal year 2007-08 (this figure was recommended by the State)

 

The Board discussed the Medicaid expenditures and the cap on Medicaid expenses by

 

the State, which could save County funding. 

 

            The Board discussed the current fund balance and the needed fund balance in order to

 

start discussions with the Local Government Commission (LGC) pertaining to a future bond

 

referendum.

 

 

            Commissioner Smith noted that he would like to discuss a one-time bonus for county

 

employees.

 

            Commissioner Lankford discussed (working with the proposed 60-cent tax rate

 

budget) the following items:

 

·        Add $100,000 back to Personnel Contingency = $300,000

·        Add $100,000 – Economic Development

·        Add $100,000 – Courtroom “C” Renovations

·        Reduce Hold Harmless appropriation to fund balance to $300,000 instead of $565,201

·        Important factor for the next few years – “hold spending”

·        Reduce other line items to balance the budget

 

Commissioner Carroll reiterated the hold harmless revenue source is scheduled to

 

reduce each year until it is completely terminated in fiscal year 2012-2013.

 

            The Board discussed the hold harmless revenue and the last tax re-evaluation.

 

Schools – Current Expense

 

            The Board discussed the county manager’s recommendation to increase the Schools-

 

Current Expense by $353,790 = $9,838,959.00 allocation. 

 

Other Issues to Discuss

 

Arts Council

 

            Commissioner Carroll noted the need to eliminate the Arts Council Director from

 

having to raise part of his salary.  Commissioner Carroll noted that the Arts Council is a

 

county department and should be funded as a county department with the Director

 

concentrating on Arts Council programs.

 

            The Board discussed the pros and cons of fully funding the Director’s salary.  The

 

Board discussed increasing the funding for the Arts Council so that the Director could

 

concentrate on programs instead of matching funding for salaries. 

 

Economic Development

 

            The Board discussed the manager’s recommendation to eliminate the full time

 

Economic Development Director’s position. The Board discussed the need to appropriate

 

funding to Economic Development in order to bring Economic Development to Stokes

 

County.

 

            Commissioner Lankford and Commissioner Smith were on Board with the county

 

manager’s recommendation to eliminate the full time position with the County Manager

 

serving as the Economic Development Director on a trial basis.

 

            Commissioner Carroll expressed concerns with the manager’s recommendation to

 

eliminate the full time Economic Development Director’s position.

 

            Vice Chairman Walker also expressed concerns with the manager’s recommendation

 

to eliminate the full time Economic Development Director’s position.  Vice Chairman Walker

 

noted if the County wants to continue to move forward with Economic Development, then the

 

County needs a full time Economic Development Director and that he had received numerous

 

comments from citizens regarding the need to put extra funding into the Economic

 

Development budget.

 

            Vice Chairman Walker reiterated it is not a safe step to eliminate the director’s

 

position and feels elimination of the director’s position will move the county backwards in

 

bringing Economic Development to Stokes County.

 

            The Board discussed the duties of the current director.

 

            County Manager Steen commented on his decision to eliminate the full time

 

Economic Development Director’s position.  Manager Steen noted the following regarding

 

the elimination of the director’s position:

 

·        Cost would probably be much higher than the current director’s salary

·        Outside consultants can help with issues

·        Already looking into possible projects

·        Already talking with City of King, Town of Walnut Cove, and Town of Danbury officials regarding Economic Development

·        To meet with Water and Sewer Authority

·        The need to start networking

·        The need to determine where the county wants to go and how to get there

·        The need to identify infrastructure needs

·        The interim period also will give the county time to determine the cost of replacing the director

·        Willing to put the hours in needed for both positions – Economic Development and County Manager

 

Vice Chairman Walker also stated that the Economic Development Director needs to

 

continue to assist current businesses in the County.

 

Forsyth Technical Community College

           

            Commissioner Carroll felt that the Board should appropriate at least $25,000 in capital

 

reserve as a good faith effort for possible feasibility studies, architectural studies, etc. for a

 

future stand-alone campus.  The remaining members of Board had no issues with funding at

 

least $25,000 in capital reserve for a stand-alone FTCC campus if possible.

 

Libraries

 

            Commissioner Carroll felt the Board should try to fund the salary study needed to

 

retain valuable employees, the cost being $25,931 each year for two years.   The Board

 

discussed funding for the libraries.   The Board members had no issues with trying to fund the

 

library’s request if possible.

 

Forestry

 

            Commissioner Carroll expressed concerns with the loss of $6,000 in the manager’s

 

recommended Forestry budget, which would actually be a loss of $15,000 (additional State

 

funding).  The Board discussed the recommended funding and had no issues with trying to

 

fund the request if possible.  Commissioner Smith noted that in past years, the combined

 

Forestry District budget has had to fund items in Stokes County due to lack of funding from

 

the County. 

 

Growers’ CoOp

 

            Commissioner Carroll felt that the Board should appropriate at least $10,000 as a good

 

faith effort to help the Growers’ CoOp if possible.  Commissioner Carroll noted the Growers’

 

CoOp is another valuable part of Economic Development. Commissioner Smith supports at

 

least $15,000 appropriation to help them get back on their feet.  Vice Chairman Walker

 

supports an appropriation of $5,000 and more possibly depending on the fund balance. 

 

Commissioner Lankford supports an appropriation of $5,000 if possible.  Chairman Inman

 

has no issues with some support ($10,000- one time allocation) to help the CoOp “stand on

 

their own feet”.  The Board discussed the issue of the CoOp being a stand-alone entity.

 

Recreation

 

            Vice Chairman Walker expressed concerns that the funding allocated for recreational

 

services is going for salaries instead of being used to provide programs for the citizens.  Vice

 

Chairman Walker presented information from the YMCA regarding programs sponsored by

 

the YMCA at the Danbury location. 

 

            Commissioner Carroll requested additional information wanting to know how the

 

County’s allocation was being spent.  Clerk to the Board Darlene Bullins presented the Board

 

with a copy of the Recreation Contract between the County and Stokes Family YMCA along

 

with additional information pertaining to programs being sponsored by the YMCA.  Vice

 

Chairman Walker requested to hold further discussion until additional information that he had

 

received from the YMCA be shared with the Board regarding program costs.

 

Capital Projects

 

            Commissioner Carroll requested to discuss Public Buildings – Capital Projects.

 

Commissioner Carroll expressed support for the following capital projects:  Courtroom

 

“C” renovations, Government Complex (Courthouse) roof, E911 roof, and ice guards at Booth

 

Mountain.

 

County Manager Steen presented the Board information regarding the usage of

 

Courtroom “C”.

 

            The Board discussed capital projects that have not been funded in previous years –

 

renovations to Courtroom ‘C”, Roof-main Government Center Building, ice guards at

 

Booth Mountain, re-pavement of Government Center parking lot, and roof on Emergency

 

Communications building.

 

Salary Contingency

 

            Commissioner Lankford and Commissioner Carroll discussed the need for the

 

$300,000 in the Personnel-Contingency for the salary adjustment study being conducted.  The

 

proposed study would put every employee on a fair and level playing field.

 

            The Board discussed the proposed salary study and being able to do something

 

(COLA, Bonus, etc) for our dedicated county employees.

 

            Vice Chairman Walker suggested giving full time employees a one-time $500 bonus

 

and contract an independent outside consultant to do a salary study.  Vice Chairman Walker

 

stated that his position (all the time) has been to have a professional salary study done for

 

the County. 

 

            Commissioner Smith had no issues with the $300,000 appropriation.

 

           

 

 

Chairman Inman wants to do something for the County employees, has no issues

 

appropriating between $200,000 and $300,000, and definitely wants to see a system that puts

 

everyone on a fair playing field.

 

Environmental Health

 

            Commissioner Smith discussed the nonrecurring overtime pay to address backlog of

 

permit requests in the manager’s recommended budget.

 

            Clerk to the Board Darlene Bullins noted one of the Environmental Health Specialists

 

had submitted her resignation this week, which would further increase the backlog of septic

 

tank permits.

 

            Commissioner Smith expressed concerns with the 8-10 week backlog for septic tank

 

permits and the need to address the issues.

 

            Vice Chairman Walker noted that the Health Director had recently quoted a 4-6 week

 

backlog, but information from citizens is an 8-10 week backlog and could be 12 weeks.

 

            The Board directed County Manager Steen to follow up regarding the number of

 

weeks waiting for a septic permit.

 

County Manager Bryan Steen presented information from Environmental Specialist

 

Supervisor noting that there had been numerous system failures that the department was

 

having to deal with, the resignation of one of the specialists, and that he believed the waiting

 

time would surely increase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                       

Adjournment

 

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

 

recessed the budget work session until Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 9:00 am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________                                  _____________________________

Darlene M. Bullins                                                    J. Leon Inman

Clerk to the Board                                                     Chairman