Michael Bobbitt: Notes From The Peanut Gallery (VC BOC December 3rd, 2012)

Reorganization of the Board and Appointment of Officers
Judge Finch did the honor of swearing in or affirming each of the unopposed and re-elected Commissioners and our new Commissioner Mr. Archie Taylor.  Then the Commissioners did the Chairman shuffle with Mr. Hester winning the Chairmanship and Ms. Brown the Vice Chairmanship.  The new Board voted to keep the current officers in their current job, approved the 2013 Holiday Schedule, and agreed to keep the same 8 – 5 Monday – Friday business hours for the county.  All of this was completed in about 10 minutes giving Chairman Hester a few minutes to speak before the next topic on the agenda.  Chairman Hester congratulated those who won re-election, welcomed Commissioner Taylor to the Board and thank Commissioners Garrison and Wright for their help. He then announced his major goals as Chairman.  First  is to bring more jobs to the area, second not to raise any taxes, third to balance our budget without dipping into savings, and fourth to move the water project, work toward a new animal shelter, and get our budget our by May 1.  As the saying goes the devil is in the details.  

NC DOT Secondary Road Program (pg 5 – 11)
Mr. Steve Winstead, presented the DOT’s Secondary Road Program (contents of his presentation can be found on pages 5 – 11 of the 20121203_vcboc_agenda_packet posted on HiH.  Chairman Hester asked if the Secondary Road Program is on line for the public to review.  It is apparently available on the DOT’s web-site.  Commissioner Brummitt asked that future lists of State roads numbers include a cross referenced to the common road name.  Answering a Mr. Asycue’s question Mr. Winstead reported only 9 miles or roadway are unpaved.  Commissioner Taylor asked two questions.  First how the State evaluates which roads to pave and whose money is used.  Mr. Winstead said that roadways are evaluated every four years on a point system and that the State has have the right of way to pave a road. Mr. Winstead said only State funds are used to pave the State roads.  When the public hearing opened Geraldine Floyd came forward with a question about a missing road sign.  Ms. Floyd lives in Vance County and missing road sign is in Warren County.  Ms Floyd was given the name of the person in Warren County to contact for replacement of the missing sign.  No one else came to speak favoring or disapproving of the plans and the Board approved the plan.   

QZAB Financing Agreement
“The Board of Commissioner … has determined to consider whether to enter into an installment financing agreement … under section 160A-20 … providing funds, together with any other available funds, to pay the costs of renovating, improving, and equipping various public school facilities … (blah, blah, blah for another 38 words) … the Project”.  In simple English the County is borrowing $2 million dollars to fix the roofs on nine public schools.  Commissioner Brummitt wanted to confirm the loan was at zero percent interest.  Mr. Asycue basically replied that depends.  The Commissioners approved the agreement to borrow the money to fix the leaking roofs.  Schools with leaking roofs are not attractive centers for learning, unattractive centers for learning, are not attractive to families seeking a place to live and work.

Julia Avenue
This was the third of three public hearings scheduled for the December meeting and the third without a whimper against or a cheer in favor of spending taxpayers’ money.  During the brief discussion Chairman Hester pointed out this project is not taking taxpayers’ money.  Mr. Asycue corrected the Chairman saying not taking local taxpayers’ money, using Federal taxpayers’ money.

Committee Reports and Recommendations
Generally this part of the program is very cut and dry.  The Board packet includes the list of vacancies that must be approved by Human Resources Committee.  The HR Committee meets for a few minutes before the Board meeting and approves the list and any additions.  Then at the Board meeting the Commissioners’ endorse the Committee’s decision.  Commissioner Taylor who is attending his first Commissioners’ meeting as a Commissioner, questioned this procedure.  Commissioner Garrison said that Commissioner Taylor needs to attend the orientation program to learn how things are done.  Why didn’t one of the other re-elected or elected Commissioners meet with Commissioner Taylor and provide a short orientation?  Why is an unapproved HR Committee report in the board packet?  Why is the Board packet not available until near noon on the Friday before the Monday meeting instead of the Thursday before the Monday meetings?  Why is the Board packet printed instead of being posted to the County’s website for downloading by noon on the Thursday before the Monday Board meeting?  I digress.

Pending Business
County Water Project …”rate of construction continues to be slowed by rock .. encountered on several roads.”  Next month we are to learn how much costs have increase to dig through a pre-Cambrian or Cambrian formation.  

Volunteer Fire Department audit is still a bee in Commissioner Brown’s bonnet.  Commissioner Brown was not pleased that the County Manager had spoken with the firms conducting the audits.  She had asked for a written response not a verbal one.  So Mr. Asycue is going to request the written response he should have obtained explaining the delay in completing the audits.  Sometimes a business’s record keeping is little more than a box filled with receipts and bank statements.  The business is good at their job, just ill equipped at maintaining business records thus brining auditors work to a crawl.

Happy Holidays