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April 4, 2005: Board of Commissioners' meeting

By Mike Cross
Posted Saturday, April 9, 2005

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Consent Agenda, approved 5-0

* Road names -- Two Gate Road and Shadymont Drive
* April proclamation as Public Health Month
* April proclamation as Child Abuse Prevention Month
* $2,000 award to the Health Dept. Diabetes project from the Wren Foundation.
* Changes to Medicaid rate for the Health Dept.
* Conveyance of milk vending machine to the Council on Aging
* Fiscal Year 2004-2005 budget amendments

Public Input Session

* Ms. Loyse Hurley, President of CCEC, stated CCEC's opposition to proceeding with capital improvements without a bond referendum and public hearings
* Mr. Dennis Clark stated concerns over approving Middle School vs. the NE High School

Regular Session

* Two Contracts needed for North Chatham Hydraulic Improvements to Seaside Environmental, approved 5-0
* Commissioner Barnes nominated Ms. Mary Schonard to the Home Block Grant Committee, approved 5-0
* Commissioner Barnes nominated Mr. Duncan Murrell to the Recreation Committee, approved 5-0
* Commissioner Morgan nominated Ms. Priscilla Bar to the Housing Committee, approved 5-0
* Commissioner Emerson nominated Ms. Lisa Shultz to the Housing Committee, approved 5-0
* Commissioner Morgan nominated Ms. Christine Brooks to the Adult Care Home Committee, approved 5-0

Work Session

* Chatham Outreach Alliance (CORA) presented a thorough briefing on the "food pantry."
* Mr. Tony Tucker requested $50,000 in 911 funds to complete our CAD projected, approved 5-0
* School Impact Fee (SIF): We all recognized the need to raise the SIF. Our current limit is $3,500 and Chairman Morgan motioned for $2,900. that rate is expected to cover the debt service on the school construction. The $2,900 SIF will apply to all permits for new residential construction beginning 15 April, 2005. Approved 4-1, with Barnes voting against

Capital Improvements:

Previous BOC discussions of a fall bond referendum to coincide with municipal elections were directed at the full county needs list -- $153 million in capital improvements. The BOC felt that even if the vote did not carry, we would have to proceed with COPS and direct loans. It would not be so much a vote to decide if we proceed with the needed construction, but a vote to determine the cheaper method to pay for it -- normally bonds would be cheaper. We even discussed public forums around the county to explain this situation.

Following our staff meeting with the director of the Debt management section of the state treasurer's office it was determined that we can only afford $65 million in new debt and that the interest rate on COPS now is expected to be equal to or less than the bond rate by the time an election completes in the fall. Waiting could also result in up to a year's delay in construction, during which time construction costs would escalate.

Procrastination has brought about the situation we now face. Our staff and BOC had no problem determining capital improvements we must proceed with that fit the $65 million debt capacity:

* Siler City Elementary School: an absolute must
* Northeastern Middle School: fits the $65 million cap -- we will use the land contributed by Briar Chapel and by raising the School Impact Fee to $2,900, Briar Chapel will pay for this school.
* Jordan Matthews Cafeteria: another absolute must -- student lunch hours are very extended and some are still eating in the yard.
* Horton Middle School: renovations to the 5th and 6th grade building are a must.
* Business park in Siler City, phase one: Our prospective anchors -- Chatham Hospital, the Community college and the juvenile detention center -- all have timelines and we will lose them if we delay. The hospital presence will also help us with DOT in getting an interchange off Hwy 421.
* Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro: Biodiesel wing and public library. A Biodiesel center will place us as a partner in the Biotech industry -- large growth potential is expected in NC. The library partnership with CCCC is the only way we will get a new public library any time soon.

The cost figures we have are architect estimates which should be within 10%, actual cost an only be determined through bids. Building costs are rising sharply and we need to proceed with planning.

No needs are off the table and we will increase our revenue stream to proceed with the NE high school and other projects in the near future. To do this, we need you to support the 1% Land Transfer Tax!

Related info:
Mike Cross' Weblog
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April 4, 2005: Board of Commissioners' meeting
Chatham County Commisioner Mike Cross shares his viewpoints with citizens on his weblog.

Related info:
Mike Cross' Weblog