Editors Note: July 2nd, 2013 – Added Michaels Notes From The Peanut Gallery below the public hearing notes.
Below is what Mr. Michael Bobbitt said at the Vance County Board of Commissioners during their public meeting tonight. He may write a traditional Notes From The Peanut Gallery later.
Good Evening Chairman Hester, Commissioners, Mr. Asycue and your staff.
My Name is Michael Bobbitt
I want to first thank the Chairman and the Commissioners for holding 16 hours of public meetings regarding the proposed county budget.
Thank you Mr. Asycue for posting the proposed budget to our County’s website, for all the world to read.
A special thanks you to Commissioner Taylor for a copy of your work showing what parts of the proposed budget are mandated by regulatory authorities or required by the citizens from the rest of the budget.
I personally learned a great deal about the business of our County’s government following along from the peanut gallery.
Now that the budget is ordained, you can focus your collective attention on new county objectives.
This week we recognize in celebration two historical events in our Nation’s history. The outcome of one event a nation endured; the outcome of the other a nation was severed.
At issue in one event was a divisive business and social structure that deprived one people of their inalienable human rights. At issue in the other was a divisive business and social structure depriving one people of equality in tax representation.
The last time I spoke to you about the issue of taxation and representation the source of the public data was factually incorrect creating a false impression.
Today the technology and staffing changes you authorized has improved the accuracy of the public data. Using the public data and technology I prepared a detailed analysis of unpaid property taxes as of May 2013. In late May you received a complete copy of my research forwarded to you from Mr. Asycue.
As you should be aware from your personal review of my research there are 100 individuals or their businesses who owe more than $1,000,000 in unpaid property taxes, some going back to 2003.
Among the whole list of individuals and businesses in the May 2013 public tax lien data are two elected officials who voted to appropriate and spend other taxpayers’ money.
In Sunday’s Henderson Daily Dispatch was my letter to the editor outlining a resolution to change our modern day taxation without representation. I offer my suggestion to you, the Board of Commissioners of Vance County, to formalize an enforceable resolution requiring all elected officials in the County and City and School to pay their individual and business taxes by the appropriate due date. Failure to do so, the elected officials abdicates their ability to vote favoring or opposing any issue before their respective body from date the payment was due and up to one year after their payment is made.
As a nation we are still healing from the outcome of a great battle our Nation endured. One would think an individual so honored to be elected to public office would know they are a leader and their example shows the way. Two hundred thirty-seven years ago this week a nation was severed in part over taxation by a leadership who set the wrong example.
Thank you for your time and good night.
Follows: Notes From the Peanut Gallery
Public Hearing – Rezoning Request RZ1306-1
Another of the public hearings without the public’s input for or against the rezoning of three lots into one large lot. Although some commissioners were curious why someone wanted to convert the property from Planned Manufactured Housing Community to Residential Medium Density they were unable to gleam an insight. The rezoning request was approved swiftly.
In the June meeting the County Attorney’s report included two county owned properties being sold one for a $1,000 and one for $2,000. My notes from the June meeting indicate that the cheaper one was sold and the more expensive one was withheld pending a property tax question about the buyer, EarlyFalsom Properties, Inc. At last night’s meeting Mr. Care again presented the offer to sell the property at 601 E. Andrews. Mr. Care said the buyer is on a payment plan for their past due taxes although paying slowly. After some pointed discussion about selling property to person or business that is not paying their property taxes on the due date, the sale was declined.
Volunteer Fire Department Audits
The Rescue Squad is asking for another 30 day extension to be in compliance with the Board’s edict for a financial audit. Mr. Asycue informed the Board that he had drafted an inspirational letter to encourage the Rescue Squad’s compliance by month’s end or their funds will be withheld. During one of the public budget work sessions Commissioner Brown said she was surprised to learn fire station’s audit could cost $2,100. She asked if the there was the potential for a volume discount. I asked a local authority on the topic of audits how to reduce the total cost of the fire department audits. The expert I asked said one way to achieve a lower overall audit cost would be for all the fire departments and rescue squad to use the same centralized accounting system under the complete control of one management team. A centralized system would eliminate seven independent fiefdoms all struggling with their own bookkeeping practices and individual audit expenses.
Water District Board
High School government or civics teachers should schedule class attendance when the County Board of Commissioners has scheduled a Water District Board meeting. It is a perfectly legal way to have the same players on two different teams.
The Water District Board meeting was like a ride down a swollen mountain river starting calmly before reaching the class 5 rapids. Robert Bernard, Hobbs & Upchurch’s project manager for our little ol’ water project, first summarized construction status. Speaking extemporaneously, Mr. Bernard said that phases 1A and 2A should be completed in the next 30 – 45 or 60 days depending on Mother Nature’s cooperation. Mr. Bernard didn’t bring any documents to help him answer a few pointed questions about outstanding construction costs and payments. Apparently Mr. Bernard was only intending to get the commissioners’ approval to buy the water meters.
Before the meeting started I asked if the meters used electronic signals to report usage. That was not evident in the documents submitted by Hobbs & Upchurch. Mr. Bernard verbally assured the commissioners that the third party Hobbs & Upchurch recommended the county hired to manage the new water district required radio or electronic meter readings. Mr. Bernard said he had no reason to reject Carolina Meter and Supply’s bid of $162,126.55 for 1,035 Badger water meters. Carolina Meter is the lowest bidder of the three bidders presented by Mr. Bernard. Commissioner Wilder was first to ask Mr. Bernard a question about the quality of the meters. Mr. Bernard reveled, ‘you might find someone who is more of an expert on this than I am’. More assurance our guide knows this river. When Commissioner Taylor asked if the warranties are the same across the board, Mr. Bernard answered he did not know. Commissioner Taylor asked about the life of the unit recommended, the technical differences between vendor’s products, and the mean time between failures of the units recommended. All question someone who is more of an expert than Mr. Bernard would have been prepared to answer. Here we are moments form spending $162,126.55 on a critical part to the whole water project and the best Hobbs & Upchurch can provide is someone who is less of an expert than needed. The Water District Board continued down the rapids towards a decision based on less than an expert’s guidance until Chairman Hester grabbed the rudder of our raft and steered us to the shore. A sub-committee was quickly formed out of the whole Water District Board. The sub-committee would meet with Hobbs &Upchurch next Wednesday (July 10 at 4:30) to get answers to the commissioners’ questions about the meters and if assured would approve the purchase of 1,035 Badger water meters for $162,126.55.
Next Commissioner Brummitt re-opened the outstanding issue of the cost of water. Mr. Asycue said he was working with Hobbs & Upchurch on that and the policies. Commissioner Brummitt reminded Mr. Asycue that the Environment Committee was to be a participant in the discussions about the cost of the water. Still no hint as to the actual cost per month for water.