The Wise County Board of Supervisors met in a Regular session on Thursday, November 14, 2013 @ 6:00 PM in the Board of Supervisors meeting room located in the Wise County Courthouse. The following members were present:
Honorable Robert R. Adkins- Chairman
Honorable Virginia Meador – Vice-Chair
Honorable J. H. Rivers
Honorable Robert E. Robbins, Jr.
Honorable Fred Luntsford
Honorable Ronald L. Shortt
Honorable Steve Bates
Honorable Dana Kilgore – members of said Board and
Shannon C. Scott – County Administrator
David L. Cox – Finance Administrator
Karen T. Mullins – County Attorney
Annette Underwood – Executive Secretary
Bob Adkins led in prayer.
All led in the pledge of allegiance to the flag.
A motion was made by Virginia Meador, seconded by Robby Robbins, to approve the minutes of the last meeting, October 10, 2013, as presented. The motion was unanimously approved.
Chairman Adkins noted that there was one item listed in red to be added to the agenda.
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Steve Bates, to approve the agenda as presented to include the item in red. The motion was unanimously approved.
ROADS AND HIGHWAYS
Supervisor Robbins said that he turned in a request from Albert Elkins about two years ago regarding a guardrail that has been torn down on the Norton Coeburn Road at the turn off to his home. He asked that VDOT be contacted as to why the guardrail has not been repaired.
Supervisor Meador asked that citizens living on the Cracker’s Neck Road be made aware that the road will be closed for construction and citizens are asked to make comments regarding this closure.
Supervisor Rivers noted that a public hearing for this road closure is scheduled for Tuesday, November 19 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Powell Valley Middle School with information for citizens to review and for their comments.
IN RE: PUBLIC HEARING – VARSON PROPERTY
A public hearing was duly advertised for this date to receive citizens’ comments on a request from Frank and Carolyn Varson regarding a proposed easement for sewer, water and power for property located near the Pound High School.
There being no one to speak, the public hearing was closed.
IN RE: FEEDING AMERICA
Edward Roberts, Major Gifts Officer for Feeding America in Southwest Virginia, provided the Board with an update on efforts that are being taken by Feeding America in Southwest Virginia to alleviate hunger in our region.
Feeding America in Southwest Virginia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to distributing food to the less fortunate through a network of nonprofit partner organizations that manage feeding programs.
For every $1 donated, Feeding America Southwest Virginia can distribute enough food for 4 meals worth about $9. Last year the Food Bank distributed more than 21 million pounds of food and related products valued at approximately $34 million to the needy in the region.
Feeding America in Southwest Virginia serves more than 400 partner agency feeding programs in 26 counties in Southwest Virginia.
The mission of Feeding America in Southwest Virginia is to feed Southwest Virginia’s hungry through a network of partners and engage our region in the fight to end hunger.
IN RE: CLINCH RIVER VALLEY INITIATIVE UPDATE
Walter Smith, Assistant Professor of Biology at UVA-Wise, addressed the Board with an update on the activities of Clinch River Valley Initiative and their recent accomplishments which included the following:
Several river clean-ups and hazardous waste collection days
Clinch River Environmental Education Symposium held on March 23, 2013
Exploring options to establish a Clinch River Ecological Learning Center
Economic Impact Analysis for possible Clinch River State Park and Water Trail completed in January 2013
Best Practices Document for public access points being shared with localities
River Access and Community Design Projects in towns of Richlands, St. Paul and Cleveland
IN RE: HAZARD KENTUCKY WYMT-TV STATION
Neil Middleton, VP General Manager for the Hazard Kentucky WYMT-TV Station, thanked the Board for its support for wanting to keep WYMT-TV on Comcast Cable. He felt that WYMT-TV was a plus for this area for weather, school closings, sports, and other local events. Wise County is considered a part of eastern Kentucky with shopping, family connections etc.
Mr. Middleton said he could understand that Comcast does not want three of the same programs on their cable from three different TV stations to avoid duplications and give their viewers more of a variety of programming. WYMT-TV has much different programming than that of the Roanoke Station or WJHL. However, he was not suggesting taking a local CBS station off the cable in favor of WYMT, which would probably not be feasible anyway, but there can be three CBS affiliates on the cable. He was not asking for three, just two, with one of those being WYMT. One question that has been asked is whether or not Comcast is paying WYMT for being on its cable and the answer is no. Because WYMT is (out-of-pocket) station, they have no legal right to ask to be placed back on the cable as would a local station. WYMT has asked to be put back on, but that is a business decision for Comcast. He noted too, that the home shopping channel that took WYMT’s place is probably a paying station whereas WYMT is not.
Mr. Middleton stated he has received more than a 100 calls wanting WYMT restored to this area. He said he would be willing to set in on a round table discussion if that would expedite the possibility of being put back on the cable.
There was some discussion on possible options the County may have in getting WYMT back with Comcast.
IN RE: SCHOOL SURPLUS CAPITAL OUTLAY FUNDS
Dr. Jeff Perry informed the Board that both schools, Union and Central, are on schedule to open up after winter break and is under budget. Historically, the Board adopted a resolution for the sale of bonds for $50M for the construction of these two schools. The site for the Central High School was changed for which the land had to be purchased, additional civil work was done, and the size of the building was increased causing a need for further funding. At that time, the Board of Supervisors allocated an additional $2.5M. As these projects progressed and are now nearing completion, there will be a surplus from the $2.5M. The exact amount of that surplus cannot be confirmed until the projects have been completed. Dr. Perry said he had been communicating with Finance Administrator Cox through this process on reconciliation of bond funds and the numbers seems to match on what has been spent thus far and the amount that is remaining. At this point, it is anticipated that there will be a surplus between $500,000 and $900,000 upon completion of these projects. A more firm number may possibly be available at the Board’s December meeting. When the additional $2.5M was allocated, the Board was told that if there was a surplus of these funds that it would be returned back to the County, and that is the intent if the Board so desires. However, there are several projects that have been communicated to the Board for which these funds could be used; such as athletic facilities, and support facilities that are needed at both Central and Union High Schools. Another option would be to allocate that money to the capital outlay fund that could be used over the next couple of years for projects such as the following:
For the replacement of roofs that would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 to $250,000 depending on the structure of the roof and its size or repairs to some of the schools
Bus replacement schedule which is estimated at $110,000 per bus
Asbestos abatement each year in the amount of $60,000
Replacement of some heating, air conditioning and mechanical needs
Safety concerns and issues such as update on additional cameras, exterior doors etc
List of capital improvement projects on each school
The School Board has not yet adopted a 5 year CIP but these needs, as listed, will be addressed at some point.
Dr. Perry explained that these surplus funds are left from the $2.5M that was allocated by the Board of Supervisors after the $50M bond money had been spent. The bond money must be spent specifically for the construction of those two schools.
When asked about the School Board’s wishes for the use of these surplus funds, Dr. Perry noted the following:
For Central High School, the support facilities for the football stadium
For Union High School, improvements to Bullitt Park, which is made possible through a lease agreement, and improvements to the fields at Appalachia for some of the support facilities there that are currently being used
Dr. Perry said his Board, if allowed to use the surplus funds, has made it clear that these funds would be divided equally between Union and Central. He noted that there would need to be a small amount of contingency left for needs that may occur after the students occupy the buildings. The mass majority of needs will be finalized by the end of December.
Finance Administrator Cox advised that the $2.5M was taken from the $9M which is in the current year’s budget. He recommended that the Board evaluate the School Board’s 5 Year CIP before making a decision on the surplus funds.
Supervisor Kilgore stated that with the decline in revenue, the Board should not make a decision until the revenue stream that is coming into the County at this time is reviewed to make sure that no more money is being spent than is coming in; not only for schools but for any purpose.
Dr. Perry asked that the Board consider the funding be allocated for the capital outlay needs as mentioned, if not for the support facilities.
Mr. Cox stated that he would recommend that the funds be dedicated to school capital outlay for the several needs they have going forward.
Dr. Perry asked that the Board give some direction as to when the Board can make a decision because if it is on the support facilities, a great deal of money can be saved at this time while individuals are working.
Walter Crouse, resident of Hurricane, spoke on the following:
Oppose the use of surplus school funds for athletic facilities; existing facilities are sufficient
Loss of coal severance
Loss of tax revenue from Dominion
Elderly can’t afford higher taxes
Need signs at convenience centers for placement of specific items
There being no further comments, the public expression
IN RE: BUDGET UPDATE
Finance Administrator David Cox said his biggest concern in the 2014 budget is the decline in coal severance funds and how it will affect machinery and tools and later, potential real estate. Based upon his current projections, revenue will be short in the general fund by $2,750,000 for FY 2014. The same short fall will be in the Coal Road Improvement Funds, which will affect VCEDA, the towns and PSA.
Mr. Cox said he has met with the constitutional officers, and the Chairman of the School Administration to get their thoughts on possible potential cuts next year. A recommendation was made to create a group to look at recommendations for expenditures and a review of the revenue sources. He asked for input from the Board on their thoughts for the current year expenditures and for 2015 and what he should be doing currently to evaluate the current budget and for 2015 expenditures. He voiced his concern regarding the current growing problems in finances. Regarding fund balance, based upon the audit results, there was a general fund balance of $13.8M at the end of 2012. Approximately $1.7M of that fund balance was used in 2013. That leaves an unaudited balance of $12.5M. Based upon current numbers already budgeted plus the shortfall, he projected the fund balance could be as low as $9M at the end of 2014. That means that $4.7M of the fund balance has been used in two years, which is mostly due to coal severance and machinery and tools. At this point in time, the County is still in compliance with the Fund Balance Policy of 10% that has been adopted by the Board. But, if this rate of spending is continued that amount will fall below the 10% by the end of 2015.
There was some discussion on the upcoming reassessment and the impact that could have on the FY 2015 budget.
Supervisor Robbins mentioned the process for which large land owners are taxed. He understood that the large parcels are not assessed the same as the smaller parcels of land. This, he said, could possibly be one untapped source available for additional revenue.
Mr. Cox stated that this would be a question for the Commissioner of Revenue.
Attorney Mullins advised that this information can be obtained from the Commissioner and reported back to the Board or send to Board members through email.
Supervisor Robbins was with the understanding that the state law requires that all property is assessed at 100% of its value.
Attorney Mullins stated that it is her understanding from the Commissioner that the County is very close to that assessment value at this time.
Mr. Cox asked the Board to make a list of suggested means for reducing expenditures and increasing revenues for the existing budget as well as the upcoming budget. He stressed the need for cuts in expenditures to keep the fund balance intact for this fiscal year as well as for FY 2015 budget.
Supervisor Rivers made mention that including suggestions from employees would be a good means of getting an additional list of possible cuts that they may be aware of.
The Board took a brief break at 7:40 PM
The meeting reconvened at 7:50 PM
IN RE: CLOSED SESSION
A motion was made by Robby Robbins, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to go into closed session per the following code Sections as permitted by the Code of Virginia:
The motion to go into closed session was unanimously approved.
After a lengthy closed session, a motion was made by Robby Robbins, seconded by Fred Luntsford, to reconvene the regular meeting. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: CLOSED SESSION
Secretary Underwood read the certification for closed meeting.
A motion was made by J. H. Rivers, seconded by Fred Luntsford, to approve the resolution verifying matters discussed while in closed session. The motion was unanimously approved by roll call vote.
RESOLUTION # 45- 2013
(Said resolution is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
There were brief comments from Board members.
Supervisor Rivers noted an email he received which stated that local governments can ask all federal agencies to coordinate their plans and regulations with local governing bodies. He said this would give the Board a seat at the table with EPA who wants to impact the coal industry, and when Fish & Game wants to do something with wild life in our area. He received supporting documentation, which says ….the federal government’s acknowledgment of that coordination with local governments is required…… Mr. Rivers gave the information to Attorney Mullins asking her to ascertain whether or not this is valid so the Board can act accordingly.
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to adjourn the meeting. The motion was unanimously approved.
ATTEST: WISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Shannon C. Scott, Clerk Robert R. Adkins, Chairman