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Mitchell County Commissioners
Minutes, Regular Session
February 2, 2015

NORTH CAROLINA

MITCHELL COUNTY

The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners met in Regular Session on February 2, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. in the Commissioner’s Conference Room, Administration Building, Bakersville, NC.  Those present for the meeting were: Bill Slagle, Chairman; Vern Grindstaff, Vice-Chairman; Ken Hollifield, Member; Keith Holtsclaw, Member; Joe Street, Member; Charles Vines, County Manager and Kathy Young, Clerk to the Board.   Also present were:  Mavis Parsley, Finance Officer; and Andy Mendhenk, Reporter with the Mitchell-News Journal.

  1. CALL TO ORDER – Commissioner Slagle called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.

  2. INVOCATION – Commissioner Hollifield gave the invocation.

  3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE – Commissioner Grindstaff led the Pledge of Allegiance.

  4. ETHICS AWARNESS AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST REMINDER:  
    In accordance with the State Government Ethics Act, it is the duty of every Board member to avoid both conflicts of interest and appearance of conflict. Does any board member have any known conflicts of interest or appearances of conflict with respect to any matters coming before the Board?  If so, please identify the conflict or appearance of conflict and refrain from any undue participation in the particular matter involved.

  5. ADDITIONS OR CHANGES TO THE AGENDA – Chairman Slagle informed the Board that Item 11. Closed Session needed to be removed from the Agenda.

  6. ADOPTION OF AGENDA – Commissioner Street moved to adopt the adjusted Agenda.  Commissioner Hollfield seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

  7. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Commissioner Holtsclaw moved to approve the
    Minutes for January 5, 2015.  Commissioner Street seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

  8. PUBLIC COMMENTS/BOARD COMMENTS – None.

  9. ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION

    1. Tax Collector Report – Tax Collector Garland informed the Board the outstanding balance for 2014 was $1,169,667.18.  He stated the collection rate currently is 88.18% versus 86.18% this time last year.  Tax Collector Garland said that second notices would be going out next week.

    2. Board of Equalization & Review – Tax Assessor Hyder recommended the Board of E&R be held on April 13 -15, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.  Commissioner Street moved to approve the dates for the Board of Equalization & Review.  Commissioner Hollifield seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

    3. Board of Election Update – Danny Burleson, Chairman of the Mitchell County Board of Elections informed the Board that by 2018 the tabulators and voting machines that Mitchell County currently uses will have to be replaced.  He stated they would like to have them before then if at all possible to get the kinks worked out of them before the deadline in 2018. Mr. Burleson said there is only one company in the State that manufactures them and the cost is $100,240.  The State Board of Election mandates what to do, where to do and when to do it.   Some Counties have opted to purchase a part of their new voting equipment one year and the rest another year.   He stated that if Mitchell County wanted to do that they would have to make sure the tabulators would interchange and they could use one in one precinct and another kind in another precinct and the totals would meet the State’s criteria.  Mr. Burleson stated that the Election Board wanted to be as transparent as possible and to ensure all the rules are followed correctly.  He said the Board of Election wants every citizen, every voter in Mitchell County who will, and can to vote and be able to vote in the easiest manner possible.

      Mr. Burleson reminded the Board that Voter ID becomes effective in 2016.  He stated that between the end of this year and 2016 it appeared they would be holding four elections.  One of these would be a Presidential Preference Primary that would be held in either February or March if it passes.

      Mr. Burleson stated that one item he wanted to bring up for discussion was the precincts.  He said there are nine precincts in Mitchell County and for the most part there are no issues with them.  The polling place at Cane Creek only has one concern and in the past it has been taken care of by gravel and mats being put down on the parking lot to allow for wheelchair access.  The polling place in Harrell has new owners and they will have to contact them to ensure they can still use itMr. Burleson stated Tipton Hill is now owned by Bradshaw Fire Department and they may require us to pay rent for this facility.  He explained they needed to move from the auditorium to the cafeteria at the next election.  Mr. Burleson said the biggest obstacle that he saw was the Red Hill Precinct.  Currently the facility they are using is not qualified for voting.  He said there isn’t a place and they don’t know of a place in the precinct.  Mr. Burleson asked for the Boards help with that.   Amy Young, Elections Director stated that prior to the next presidential preference she will have to conduct an ADA Survey for all nine precincts.  She said the Red Hill facility would not meet the ADA Compliance and would have to be shut down or moved.  A lot of counties uses churches however in Mitchell County she didn’t feel that it would go over to well.  Mr. Burleson said that might be the only option if another place could not be found.

      Commissioner Street asked Mr. Burleson if there was a specific law requiring that we have nine precincts.  Mrs. Young stated that House Bill 102 required that there be at least one voting place in every township in Mitchell County that existed in 1995 unless there is another bill passed in Raleigh.  She explained that G.S. 163-128 gives the County Board of Election the authority to combine, change or move precincts as the County Board sees fit.  But because of House Bill 102 the Mitchell County Board of Election does not have that authority.  Mr. Burleson explained the precincts were reduced in the 90’s and a legislator had House Bill 102 passed in 1997 to put the precincts back as they were in 1995.  The bill requires that every township will have at least one voting place.  He stated that this bill would have to be repealed or changed before Mitchell County could have the authority that G.S. 163-128 gives other counties.  After that the Board of Elections would then have the authority to split the precincts, to change them, to change the boundaries that needs to be done to ensure the voters are taken care of and the vote is as easy as it can be without the long lines.  Luther Stroup stated in 1993 Mitchell County had eleven precincts and the Board of Elections went to five precincts.  It was economical, much easier to work, easier to find poll workers and places to hold elections.  He said neither the Board of Elections nor the Board of County Commissioners were consulted about this bill.  Mr. Stroup told the Board that if there were less precincts the cost of the new election equipment would be reduced by almost half of the cost and the cost of each election would be reduced dramatically.  Discussion was held on holding early voting in different areas of the County. 

      Commissioner Grindstaff stated he had been a part of the voting process in Mitchell County since he was a little fellow.  He said Mitchell County Board of Election has and still does wonderful job with making elections transparent for all the citizens.  He stated that on election night you make sure citizens can watch the results coming in and he appreciated that.

      Commissioner Street moved to ask for the introduction of a local bill to change House Bill 102 and for County Manager Vines to work with our local legislators on crafting the language for the local bill.  Commissioner Hollifield seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

    4. DSS Update – Paula Holtslcaw informed the Board they would be getting an update on two of DSS’s programs.  One of them is Children’s Services and the other one is Income Maintenance which includes Medicaid and Food Stamps.  Ms. Holtsclaw stated she had brought some of her employees to discuss the issues from the employee’s point of view.

      Ms. Holtsclaw told the Board she wanted to start with Children Services.  She said she had discussed Children Services with the Board on several occasions and the Board had graciously given her two more Child Service Investigators.  The State has mandated they are limited to ten cases per worker.  Currently they have thirty-nine cases with four workers handling the cases.  However, in Safe Net In-Home Services there are twenty nine cases and she has two employees.  She stated that because the State mandates that they carry no more than ten cases and they are nine cases over.  Ms. Holtsclaw explained that these cases can extend to nine, ten or eleven months.  She told the Board in Foster Care they currently have forty-two children in custody.  The Foster Care Social Workers by State mandate can only have fifteen cases.  Currently in Foster Care she has a Supervisor and one and a half workers.  Because of this her Foster Care Supervisor is caring a case load which is not complying with State mandates.   Ms. Holtsclaw introduced Jada McMahan, Foster Care Supervisor and Mariah Parsley, Foster Care Social Worker.  Mrs. McMahan provided the Board with information regarding the amount of time spent on their cases and a copy of State Mandates and Policy Requirements (a copy is hereby attached and becomes a part of the minutes).  Mrs. McMahan discussed with the Board the different types of children they have in custody and the amount of time each type requires. Ms. Holtsclaw told the Board she was asking for the part-time position they had given her to full-time.  Ms. McMahan discussed with the Board the changing the State was going to make in kinship placement of foster children.

      Commissioner Hollifield told the Board the DSS Board had some questions about the need for Foster Parents in Mitchell County and the slackness of getting people licensed to be Foster Parents.

      Commissioner Holtsclaw asked Ms. Holtsclaw what she wanted.  Ms. Holtsclaw stated she wanted the part-time position to be moved to full-time.  Commissioner Holtsclaw asked if fifteen cases were the average.  Discussion was held on the case loads and how they can shift things around to try and maintain the fifteen cases per State mandate.  Commissioner Holtsclaw asked Ms. Holtsclaw if she had the perfect scenario what would she have.  Ms. Holtsclaw stated she would have another full-time employee in addition to making the part-time a full-time position.  This would enable her to get the entire caseload off the Supervisor.  Ms. Holtsclaw told the Board there was no one up at DSS that is slacking off and not doing their job.  She said that everyone is chipping in to try and manage things.  Commissioner Holtsclaw asked if these positions were totally County funded or do we receive some reimbursements from the Feds or the State.   Ms. Holtsclaw said they received money back from Federal and the State on the positions.  Commissioner Holtsclaw said that he wished he could feel like that if the Board granted this part-time position to full-time that it was really going to help you a bundle, but it doesn’t appear that it will do a whole lot for you.  With this it still doesn’t appear that we will be in compliance with the State requirements.

      Chairman Slagle stated the request was moving a part-time position to a full-time position at a cost of $12,150.  He said that he felt that this was a stop gap and poor management.  Chairman Slagle told the Board they need to fix the problem, because it would be hard for this Board to continue to amend the budget of DSS.  He said that the Board’s representative on the DSS Board which is Ken Hollifield and County Manager Vines to sit down and say this is what we have to have moving forward and to sit down with the court system and say we have to have an affordable management plan and to have adequate staffing.   He said to continue using a stop gap is an expensive management practice and it doesn’t fix anything.  Chairman Slagle suggested tabling this item for today and over the next week or two sit down and come up with a management plan that the Board of County Commissioners could be get behind and fund so that Ms. Holtsclaw is not continually having to come back to the Board and ask for additional funding.  The budget amendments are tough on the Board because it has to come up with a new revenue stream.

      Commissioner Grindstaff said to Chairman Slagle’s point this is not a beat you up moment, but we are saying we want the best for our DSS.  He stated finding a permanent solution to the problem is the better avenue than putting a band aide on it.

      Chairman Slagle said that as the DSS Director, Ms. Holtsclaw needed to have management tools in place to meet the States mandates, because if she didn’t she could be coming back every month based on what the numbers are.  He stated guessing was an expensive practice.  Chairman Slagle said that if Ms. Holtsclaw sat down with the court system, County Manager Vines and Commissioner Hollifield and work on trying to get a better approach with this and give DSS what they need to alleviate the need for DSS coming back and asking for additional funding.

      Commissioner Street moved to move the part-time position to a full-time position.  Commissioner Grindstaff seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

      Kristi Street provided the Board with information regarding issues with Income Maintenance and information on Medicaid Data, Food and Nutrition Services Data (a copy is hereby attached and becomes a part of the minutes).  She discussed with the Board issues with NCFAST and the additional work that the Affordable Care Act had placed on this unit.  Ms. Street also discussed the current level of staff and the level of staff that surrounding counties have.

    5. Budget Amendment #1 for FY 14-15 – Commissioner Holtsclaw moved to approve Budget Amendment #1 for FY 14-15 (a copy is hereby attached and becomes a part of the minutes).  Commissioner Street seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

  10. CONSENT AGENDA

    1. Releases/Refunds/Discoveries for February 2015
    2. Vehicle Releases/Refunds for February 2015

    Commissioner Hollifieldmoved to approve the Consent Agenda (a copy of the Consent Agenda Items are hereby attached and become a part of the minutes).  Commissioner Street seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

  11. COUNTY MANAGER’S REPORT – None.

  12. BOARD COMMENTS – None.

  13. ADJOURNMENT – Commissioner Hollifield moved to adjourn the meeting.

    Commissioner Grindstaff seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

    The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.
MITCHELL COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

Bill Slagle, Chairman

Vern Griondstaff, Vice-Chairman

Ken Hollifield, Member

Keith Holtsclaw, Member

Joe Street, Member


ATTEST:

Kathy Young, NCCCC Clerk to the Board