Notice

I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Macon County Commissioners

Coverage of the meetings of the Macon County Board of County Commissioners.

Franklin Town Board of Aldermen

Coverage of the meetings of the Franklin Town Board of Aldermen.

Macon County School Board

Coverage of the meetings of the Macon County School Board.

Photoblog

Photos from my photoblog.

Nothing is here yet

I haven't decided what to put here yet, so look at this pretty photo.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Macon County Commissioners 05-31-2012
Budget Work Session III



**12.04am** Here is the audio of the meeting:


Download MP3


The video will take a bit longer because a storm is coming and I don't want to risk processing the video and having the power go out.

**note** I will post the audio and video of this meeting on this article as soon after the meeting as I can.





The Macon county Commissioners will be having their third budget worksession tonight at 6pm. The Director of the Macon County Health Dept, Jim Bruckner, and the Macon County Sheriff, Robbie Holland, will be making presentations on their budget requests and will be available to answer questions posed by the Commissioners.

The commissioners will also continue going over the recommended budget (which is embedded below and downloadable) in preparation for the annual public hearing on the budget, which will take place at 6pm on June 5th. I will be there, tweeting from the meeting using the #MaconGov hashtag on Twitter. If you are not on Twitter, then you can scroll down to the end of this article and follow along.

Here are the last two meetings devoted to the budget:







The last half of the May 21, 2012 meeting of the Macon County Commissioners. For more info, see is.http://gd/12M0521



The Macon County Commissioners 05-23-2012 Budget Work Session II. For more info, see http://is.gd/12M0523

Macon County Manager's Office • Budget Message
(828) 349-2025

May 8, 2012

Macon County Board of Commissioners

Chairman: Kevin Corbin
Vice-Chair: Bobby Kuppers
Commissioner: Ronnie Beale
Commissioner: Ron Haven
Commissioner: Jimmy Tate


Gentlemen,

In accordance with the North Carolina Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act, I am pleased to present to you the proposed budget for Macon County for fiscal year 2012/2013.

Macon County continues to maintain an enviable position in comparison to many counties in North Carolina. The county remains in sound financial condition, and currently has the lowest ad-valorem property tax rate among all counties in North Carolina (@ 27.9 cents per $100). Our county credit rating this year was raised by Standard and Poor’s from an A to an A+. Our fund balance is stable and allows the county to have reserves in an amount equal to at least three months of operating expenditures. This provides a strong degree of financial security in terms of being prepared for unexpected emergencies or shortfalls in revenue. The healthy fund balance, a conservative approach to budgeting, along with a consistent tax collection rate contributes to Macon County’s favorable Bond Rating.

There are many positive accomplishments the county can be proud of, while at the same time being vigilant in our approach to responsible financial planning. I sincerely believe this is what is meant by being a good steward of public funds. I will take time in this budget message to emphasize both highlights of the current year, and the challenges facing the county next year.

On the revenue side of the budget, growth in the tax base is minimal and although sales taxes have somewhat stabilized they continue to fall short of past years growth experience. We, like everyone continue to hope for a better economy next year.

During the past year Macon County continued with several major projects and has made considerable progress on these. The following list provides some insight on these very important contributions to the future of Macon County.

  • Construction continues on the new K-4 Iotla Valley Elementary School, (Construction Cost) $11,300,000, $118.00 per square foot, financed at a net interest rate to the county of 0.48 %. The debt will retire in 17 years, and the school is on schedule to be completed and occupied by this August. 


  • Little Tennessee/Cartoogechaye Creek Sewer Interceptor Line: The main line is now operational. When we complete the reuse system at the landfill, the project we will be finished. We expect to finalize by June 30th. 


  • The Riverbend Road/ Highway 28 North, water project is now complete along with a new 500,000 gallon finished water storage tank (Wilkie Street Tank). Funds to extend new water service to the Swiss Colony subdivision area are available, and we are waiting for the Town of Franklin to acquire the necessary easements and rights of way in order to let the contract on this additional phase of the project. 


  • The Macon County Airport runway extension project has been completed after nearly 10 years of delays and setbacks. The county in this year’s budget appropriated enough funds ($232,634) to match a new Federal Aviation Administration grant of ($2,093,706) for the rehabilitation and repaving of the airport apron. This project will begin this fiscal year but likely will not be completed until early next fiscal year. 


  • Renovation is well underway on the new Sherriff’s Office on Palmer Street. We expect to have the work completed by June 30, and hopefully fully occupied by then. 


  • The Barrett Building renovation is proceeding well and with any luck we should have that project completed this summer. In addition to renovating the top floor, and installing a state of the art communications system for the county’s Emergency 911 Center, a new interior accessible elevator will be installed to make the entire building more ADA compliant and handicap accessible. 

  • The Business Development Center (Incubator) has suddenly taken off with renewed interest. We have several new businesses that have located there this year and have recently had request for more space. We hope to be able to relocate the DMV Drivers License Office and utilize that space for business development purposes soon.
Challenges for the Coming Year

In order to fund essential county services, meet the county’s debt service obligation on capital projects, and maintain critical needs in education and public safety, we have made decisions and recommendations that prioritize ,and in many cases reduce departmental and agency budget requests this year. There are many worthwhile and commendable projects, programs, and services that have merit and still need to be funded and or implemented, but have not been included in this proposal due to lack of additional revenue.

The original approved general fund budget for this year (2011/2012) was $42,775,263. Due to continuing contracts and additional revenue the current revised budget for this year is $45,788,503. The proposed general fund budget for fiscal year (2012/2013) is $44,275,869.

The proposed budget for (2012/13) is 3.5% more than the (2011/2012) original approved general fund budget, and is 3.3% less than the revised current year general fund budget. The increase is due in large part because of additional appropriations from fund balance not from a growth in general fund revenues. This is basically a no growth budget except for one time expenditures from fund balance reserve.

The county General Fund operating budget is balanced within existing revenues. No property tax increase is requested or recommended. We have reduced requests for capital outlay from our departments and trimmed other expenses where feasible. Our goal over the past four years has been to maintain the current level of service without additional staff. We have been able to do that by leaving non critical positions unfilled throughout county departments. We have asked county staff to take on additional work load with no salary adjustment. We continue to fill only essential positions when they become vacant.

Our county employees have worked hard to do their job without complaint as they continue to help us hold the line on spending while delivering essential county services. Macon County is indeed fortunate to have such dedicated and devoted employees. The Board earlier this year authorized a new classification and pay plan study that is almost ready for presentation. We do not have the financial impact of that study at this time, and therefore have not budgeted anything at this point for implementation of the approved plan. We will continue to work with Springsted (our consultant) on an implementation plan when we receive the final report. At this point the proposed budget contains no salary adjustments.

Our self-funded health insurance program continues to remain strong. We have not had to increase our rates for employees/dependant coverage in four years due to the fact our loss in claims has been favorable. We are not proposing an increase in employee contributions at this time. This will be the fifth consecutive year without an increase. I anticipate that next year (2013/2014) that will definitely change.

Every year, Macon County strives to improve services, recruit and retain quality employees and work to maintain and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. We are committed to maintaining our leadership position in Western North Carolina. Macon County enjoys a reputation of being a forward thinking progressive county that seeks to preserve the quality of life while carefully balancing the needs of our citizens and the tax burden they are asked to bear. I believe this proposed county budget reflects that commitment.

There are several key issues we have addressed as we prepared this spending plan for next year. Here are a few highlights of that plan. A full and complete line item detail has been prepared that gives a thorough breakdown of each expenditure, appropriation and revenue source.

The state is still facing yet another budget crisis next year. With the General Assembly in session we remain concerned that the state could shift additional responsibilities and/or reduce county funding to correct its budget crisis. We hope that will not be the case. We have been reassured by our legislators that the state will not balance their budget on the backs of the counties this year. So far they seem to be holding to that pledge. I remain guardedly optimistic

Education remains a priority for Macon County

In the past four years Macon County has made an enormous commitment to our local educational system in terms of capital improvement needs as the following demonstrates.

Macon County Public School Capital Funding

Capital improvements to East Franklin Elementary School (QZAB)..........$2,000,000
New Intermediate School and expansion to East Franklin..........$20,000,000
Purchase (Owens) property for Mountain View Intermediate..........$2,600,000
Nantahala Renovation (QZAB)..........$1,800,000
Iotla Valley Elementary School Construction..........$13,869,000
Franklin High School Improvements..........$1,321,000
Highlands School Improvements and sports fields..........$938,000
Macon Middle School Air Conditioning..........$80,000
South Macon Access Road..........$88,657
Union Academy roof replacement..........$62,765
____________________________________________________________________

Total County Funded School Capital Projects since 2008..........$42,759,422

We plan to complete the window replacement on the Nantahala School in the coming year. Leftover QZAB funds and a small local appropriation will finish this item that was omitted in the original project due to shortage of funding at that time.

The critical need at this time in our school system is Technology.

The county is well aware that the current situation regarding computer upgrades is far behind where it needs to be. With the elimination of ADM funding for technology by the state, our replacement schedule has grown from a five year replacement schedule to a nine year replacement schedule. In addition to that, in less than two years (2014) the state will require all local School Systems to be able to do assessments, and send end of grade reports electronically to Raleigh. In order to meet this critical need now it will require an estimated $1,500,000 in funding specifically for Information Technology. This budget includes a proposal to seek a low interest (around 1.75%) short term (54 month) loan in order to immediately address this issue. The debt will be paid back in yearly fund balance appropriations. This would not only solve the immediate problem but preserve the county fund balance in case of emergency. The estimated loan payment of $311,829 is included in this proposed budget. If the economy improves the county would reserve the right to retire the debt before the end of the term.

Macon County Schools County Funding
For Current Expense and Debt Service

FY 12-13 Current Exp- CO-Solid Waste- Supplement- Debt Service..........$12,384,421

FY 12-13 Total Macon County General Fund Budget..........$44,275,869

Percent of Total General Fund Budget..........28%

Appropriation as a Percent of Property Taxes..........48.89%

The proposed FY 2012/2013 budget recommends the county appropriation to the School Current Expense budget increase to the FY 2009/2010 level of $6,911,000 and the Capital Outlay Budget be funded at $256,000. With current capital outlay at this level of funding the School System could be able to meet at least some of their current critical capital needs. As noted earlier, county funding addresses the $1,500,000 technology need in the school system. The proposed budget continues to include full funding for the teacher supplement.

Public Safety

Another ongoing concern and high priority is public safety. With this in mind the recommendation in this proposed budget is to replace two four wheel drive ambulances in the EMS Department, and six patrol vehicles in the Sheriff’s Department. This will help Macon County preserve our rotation system and preserve our readiness to be fully prepared and able to respond effectively and efficiently when the need arises.

Funding for outside agencies in the Special Appropriations budget remains at current year levels.

The proposed budget for Macon County for Fiscal Year 2012/2013 as required by state statute is balanced with revenues and expenditures of $44,275,869 and is hereby submitted for your review and consideration.

Respectfully,

C. Jack Horton
County Manager/ Budget Officer


Here are the recommended budget for 2012-2013 and the approved budget from 2011-2012, followed by the recommended budget from last year:


2012-13 Admin Recommended Budget for Macon County

2012 Board Approved Budget for Macon County

2012 Admin Recommended Budget
















Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mitt Romney Clinches Republican Nomination with Landslide Win in Texas



As of last night, with 69% of the vote in Texas, Governor Mitt Romney has secured enough delegates to clinch the nomination to be the candidate of the Republican Party in the 2012 general election.

His campaign released the following statement last night:

Today, Mitt Romney released the following statement on clinching the required number of delegates for the Republican nomination.

“I am honored that Americans across the country have given their support to my candidacy and I am humbled to have won enough delegates to become the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nominee. Our party has come together with the goal of putting the failures of the last three and a half years behind us. I have no illusions about the difficulties of the task before us. But whatever challenges lie ahead, we will settle for nothing less than getting America back on the path to full employment and prosperity. On November 6, I am confident that we will unite as a country and begin the hard work of fulfilling the American promise and restoring our country to greatness.”



As the above map shows, Texas was a Romney landslide and Ron Paul could only manage 11.9% of the votes in his own home state...the worst home state performance of any Presidential candidate this election cycle. (Mitt Romney 72.2% in Massachusetts, Newt Gingrich 47.2% in Georgia and Rick Santorum 18.3% in Pennsylvania).



The delegate count, according to the AP, stands at:

1,183 Mitt Romney
261 Rick Santorum
135 Newt Gingrich
129 Ron Paul

Now, the focus of the Republican Party, save for a few delusional people, will turn to working toward the election of Mitt Romney as the 45th President of the United States of America and the RNC National Convention in Tampa Bay [website], Florida will be a showcase for the Romney Campaign [website].



Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day 2012 is Observed in Franklin, NC



When confronted with the enormity of the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for our nation, we realize that there is nothing we can do to balance the books of our debt to these people. All we can do is be grateful and remember them. This video, accompanied by a few photos, is a documentation of the effort of the American Legion Post 108, with the assistance of other Veterans Organizations in Macon County, to remember those who gave that last full measure of devotion to our nation to preserve our freedom.

Please take a little time to visit the website [link] of the Veterans Memorial of Macon County where this observance toom place. If you can, make a donation to the Veterans Memorial of Macon County.



Memorial Day Ceremony hosted by American Legion Post 108 on May 28, 2012 in the Macon County Veterans Memorial Park in Franklin, NC.


View photos on Flickr.

Credits and Acknowledgements

I would like to thank American Legion Post 108 and the organizers of this event for allowing me to preserve a record of their ceremony


From the Memorial Day Program, I have assembled a list of those who participated in, or helped behind the scenes, making this Memorial Day Observance take place. Any mistakes in transcription are mine:


Marine Corps League Color Guard

Convocation
American Legion Chaplain
Brenda DuBose

Introduction
Don Lanson

Greetings of Commanders

American Legion
Bob White

Veterans of Foreign Wars
Dave Patterson

Vietnam Veterans
Rick Norton

Marine Corps League
Tom Mintz

Recitation "In Flanders Field"
Robin Parker

Interpretation of "In Flanders Field"
Christine Jason

"Shenandoah"
Macon Harmony

Guest Speaker
HMC James DuBose

Two Bell Ceremony
Rev Whiting & Rev Dykes

"Eternal Father"
Macon Harmony

Rifle Volley, Echo Taps
Honor Guard

Wreath Presentation
Louise Womack, ALA President

Music Provided by:

Macon Men Making Music
Tom Fisher, Lloyd Kirkland, Toby Tobias,
Stew Clemmons, Don Swanson, David Denis,
Michael McSwain, Bob Trafford, Scott Taylor,
Charles W Jones, Al Griseck, Vincent Barbro,
John Erbelding, Harry Miller, Roger Thibalt,
Frank Hernandez, John Sill, Chuck Williams,
Paul Wysock and Dan Walton

Macon Harmony
Frank Hernandez (tenor)
David Dennis (baritone)
Jim Hunter (lead)
Scott Taylor (bass)

Quartermaster
Bud Colcord

Master of Cermonies
Don Lanson

Special Appreciation

American Legion

Sons of the American Legion

American Legion Auxiliary

Macon County Sheriff's Office
(in particular Robbie Holland)

Macon County Recreation Department

Kevin Corbin and the
Holly Springs Baptist Church

Boy Scouts of America

All Macon County Veterans Organizations who have helped and participated in this event.




Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Grateful Nation Pauses on Memorial Day






 "It is the Soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us Freedom of the Press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us Freedom of Speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us the Freedom to demonstrate.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer,
Who has given us the right to a fair trial;
And it is the Soldier--who salutes the flag,
Who serves the flag, and
Whose coffin is draped by the flag--
Who allows the protester to burn the flag." 







American Cemetery and Memorial located in Hamm, LuxembourgOn Monday, Americans across this nation and citizens located around the world will pause throughout the day to observe Memorial Day. Since its first official observation on 5 May, 1868, when it was called Declaration Day, it has been a day of remembrance for those who sacrificed and died in our nation’s service. And while it was originally dedicated to honor Civil War soldiers, we know it today as a celebration in memory of all who have fought for and defended our right to freedom.


In 1968 the observation of this day was established to be the last Monday in May. Today it remains a time of observation to honor and to respect those who fought to protect the liberties that our Founding Fathers proclaimed with certainty in the Declaration of Independence and that were thoughtfully and carefully framed in the Constitution of the United States. In his proclamation to set aside this day in 1868, General Logan instructed there to be thoughts to “…cherish tenderly the memories of our heroic dead who made their breast a barricade between our country and its foes”.


To those who died securing peace and freedom; To those who served in conflict to protect our land, and sacrificed their dreams of the day to preserve the hope of our nation keeping America the land of the free for over two centuries we owe our thanks and our honor. It is important to not only recognize their service but to respect their devotion to duty and to ensure that the purpose for which they fought will never be forgotten.


From the soldiers who fought bravely during the American Revolution to the men and women of today’s Armed Forces, America’s fighting forces, have responded bravely to this nation’s call to duty. Both on the battlefield and in their assurance of readiness, members of the nation’s military remain bound to their duty. For more than 200 years, America’s Armed Forces have been the surest guarantee that Freedom will continue to ring across this land – From Sea to Shining Sea!


Flags Honoring the Fallen on Main Street in Franklin, NCThe lives of the men and women who fought in America’s battles, and who served their country in support of the military, made significant sacrifice in fighting for the freedom and liberty that we enjoy today. Too often we fail to remember those who gave their life, or those whose life today bears the scars as a lasting memory of that sacrifice and commitment. But there are many who remember vividly as the lives affected were sons, daughters, friends, coworkers and neighbors – and that their unselfishvsacrifice was made with the assurance that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness required the ultimate service to their nation.


~excerpt from a Memorial Day speech by Kelvin Drawdy [PDF]






Where ever you are today, please take a moment and remember the sacrifice of those who gave all their tomorrows for the freedoms we enjoy. Be grateful. Be glad that such men and women lived. 




Locally, the Memorial Day observance will be held at the Veterans Memorial Park of Macon County. [Directions]

The ceremony will begin at 11am and there will be a BBQ afterward. Bring a lawn chair.

Here are videos of previous Memorial Day events I have covered in Macon County...

2011:



2010:


2009:

2009 Memorial Day Commemoration in Franklin, NC from Thunder Pig on Vimeo.









Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gone Fishing



Not really, but the sentiment is the same. I'll be behind the scenes, trying to catch up on editing video from meetings I've been unable to post the video for in the past few weeks without having to worry about adding posts here simultaneously.

Regular posting will resume on late Sunday or early Monday.


Don't forget to make plans to attend the Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday morning at the Veterans Memorial Park on US441 next to the Community Facilities Building at the Veterans Memorial. The ceremony begins at 11am followed by a BBQ held by the American Legion Post 108. Bring a chair.



Bookmark and Share

Speed Limit: 5 MPH


Sometimes, slower is better.


Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Memorial Poppies on Main Street





Lt Colonel John Crawford, USAF (ret) gives memorial poppies in exchange for contributions on Main Street in Franklin, NC

The use of the poppy was inspired by the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields". Its opening lines refer to the many poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the churned-up earth of soldiers' graves in Flanders, a region of Europe that overlies parts of Belgium and France.[1] Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae is popularly believed to have written it on 3 May 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend (a fellow soldier) the day before. The poem was first published on 8 December 1915 in the London-based magazine Punch.

Source: Wikipedia


In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.




Bookmark and Share

Macon County Commissioners 05-23-2012
Budget Work Session II






The Macon County Commissioners will be meeting today at 3:30pm. 


Several Chiefs of the local volunteer fire departments and the Director of the County IT Dept will be present to provide information on their budget requests. 


The commissioners will also continue going over the recommended budget (which is embedded below and downloadable) beginning at the Animal Control section. I will be there, tweeting from the meeting using the #MaconGov hashtag on Twitter. If you are not on Twitter, then you can scroll down to the end of this article and follow along.

Macon County Manager's Office • Budget Message
(828) 349-2025

May 8, 2012

Macon County Board of Commissioners

Chairman: Kevin Corbin
Vice-Chair: Bobby Kuppers
Commissioner: Ronnie Beale
Commissioner: Ron Haven
Commissioner: Jimmy Tate


Gentlemen,

In accordance with the North Carolina Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act, I am pleased to present to you the proposed budget for Macon County for fiscal year 2012/2013.

Macon County continues to maintain an enviable position in comparison to many counties in North Carolina. The county remains in sound financial condition, and currently has the lowest ad-valorem property tax rate among all counties in North Carolina (@ 27.9 cents per $100). Our county credit rating this year was raised by Standard and Poor’s from an A to an A+. Our fund balance is stable and allows the county to have reserves in an amount equal to at least three months of operating expenditures. This provides a strong degree of financial security in terms of being prepared for unexpected emergencies or shortfalls in revenue. The healthy fund balance, a conservative approach to budgeting, along with a consistent tax collection rate contributes to Macon County’s favorable Bond Rating.

There are many positive accomplishments the county can be proud of, while at the same time being vigilant in our approach to responsible financial planning. I sincerely believe this is what is meant by being a good steward of public funds. I will take time in this budget message to emphasize both highlights of the current year, and the challenges facing the county next year.

On the revenue side of the budget, growth in the tax base is minimal and although sales taxes have somewhat stabilized they continue to fall short of past years growth experience. We, like everyone continue to hope for a better economy next year.

During the past year Macon County continued with several major projects and has made considerable progress on these. The following list provides some insight on these very important contributions to the future of Macon County.

  • Construction continues on the new K-4 Iotla Valley Elementary School, (Construction Cost) $11,300,000, $118.00 per square foot, financed at a net interest rate to the county of 0.48 %. The debt will retire in 17 years, and the school is on schedule to be completed and occupied by this August. 


  • Little Tennessee/Cartoogechaye Creek Sewer Interceptor Line: The main line is now operational. When we complete the reuse system at the landfill, the project we will be finished. We expect to finalize by June 30th. 


  • The Riverbend Road/ Highway 28 North, water project is now complete along with a new 500,000 gallon finished water storage tank (Wilkie Street Tank). Funds to extend new water service to the Swiss Colony subdivision area are available, and we are waiting for the Town of Franklin to acquire the necessary easements and rights of way in order to let the contract on this additional phase of the project. 

  • The Macon County Airport runway extension project has been completed after nearly 10 years of delays and setbacks. The county in this year’s budget appropriated enough funds ($232,634) to match a new Federal Aviation Administration grant of ($2,093,706) for the rehabilitation and repaving of the airport apron. This project will begin this fiscal year but likely will not be completed until early next fiscal year. 

  • Renovation is well underway on the new Sherriff’s Office on Palmer Street. We expect to have the work completed by June 30, and hopefully fully occupied by then. 

  • The Barrett Building renovation is proceeding well and with any luck we should have that project completed this summer. In addition to renovating the top floor, and installing a state of the art communications system for the county’s Emergency 911 Center, a new interior accessible elevator will be installed to make the entire building more ADA compliant and handicap accessible. 

  • The Business Development Center (Incubator) has suddenly taken off with renewed interest. We have several new businesses that have located there this year and have recently had request for more space. We hope to be able to relocate the DMV Drivers License Office and utilize that space for business development purposes soon.
Challenges for the Coming Year

In order to fund essential county services, meet the county’s debt service obligation on capital projects, and maintain critical needs in education and public safety, we have made decisions and recommendations that prioritize ,and in many cases reduce departmental and agency budget requests this year. There are many worthwhile and commendable projects, programs, and services that have merit and still need to be funded and or implemented, but have not been included in this proposal due to lack of additional revenue.

The original approved general fund budget for this year (2011/2012) was $42,775,263. Due to continuing contracts and additional revenue the current revised budget for this year is $45,788,503. The proposed general fund budget for fiscal year (2012/2013) is $44,275,869.

The proposed budget for (2012/13) is 3.5% more than the (2011/2012) original approved general fund budget, and is 3.3% less than the revised current year general fund budget. The increase is due in large part because of additional appropriations from fund balance not from a growth in general fund revenues. This is basically a no growth budget except for one time expenditures from fund balance reserve.

The county General Fund operating budget is balanced within existing revenues. No property tax increase is requested or recommended. We have reduced requests for capital outlay from our departments and trimmed other expenses where feasible. Our goal over the past four years has been to maintain the current level of service without additional staff. We have been able to do that by leaving non critical positions unfilled throughout county departments. We have asked county staff to take on additional work load with no salary adjustment. We continue to fill only essential positions when they become vacant.

Our county employees have worked hard to do their job without complaint as they continue to help us hold the line on spending while delivering essential county services. Macon County is indeed fortunate to have such dedicated and devoted employees. The Board earlier this year authorized a new classification and pay plan study that is almost ready for presentation. We do not have the financial impact of that study at this time, and therefore have not budgeted anything at this point for implementation of the approved plan. We will continue to work with Springsted (our consultant) on an implementation plan when we receive the final report. At this point the proposed budget contains no salary adjustments.

Our self-funded health insurance program continues to remain strong. We have not had to increase our rates for employees/dependant coverage in four years due to the fact our loss in claims has been favorable. We are not proposing an increase in employee contributions at this time. This will be the fifth consecutive year without an increase. I anticipate that next year (2013/2014) that will definitely change.

Every year, Macon County strives to improve services, recruit and retain quality employees and work to maintain and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. We are committed to maintaining our leadership position in Western North Carolina. Macon County enjoys a reputation of being a forward thinking progressive county that seeks to preserve the quality of life while carefully balancing the needs of our citizens and the tax burden they are asked to bear. I believe this proposed county budget reflects that commitment.

There are several key issues we have addressed as we prepared this spending plan for next year. Here are a few highlights of that plan. A full and complete line item detail has been prepared that gives a thorough breakdown of each expenditure, appropriation and revenue source.

The state is still facing yet another budget crisis next year. With the General Assembly in session we remain concerned that the state could shift additional responsibilities and/or reduce county funding to correct its budget crisis. We hope that will not be the case. We have been reassured by our legislators that the state will not balance their budget on the backs of the counties this year. So far they seem to be holding to that pledge. I remain guardedly optimistic

Education remains a priority for Macon County

In the past four years Macon County has made an enormous commitment to our local educational system in terms of capital improvement needs as the following demonstrates.

Macon County Public School Capital Funding

Capital improvements to East Franklin Elementary School (QZAB)..........$2,000,000
New Intermediate School and expansion to East Franklin..........$20,000,000
Purchase (Owens) property for Mountain View Intermediate..........$2,600,000
Nantahala Renovation (QZAB)..........$1,800,000
Iotla Valley Elementary School Construction..........$13,869,000
Franklin High School Improvements..........$1,321,000
Highlands School Improvements and sports fields..........$938,000
Macon Middle School Air Conditioning..........$80,000
South Macon Access Road..........$88,657
Union Academy roof replacement..........$62,765
____________________________________________________________________

Total County Funded School Capital Projects since 2008..........$42,759,422

We plan to complete the window replacement on the Nantahala School in the coming year. Leftover QZAB funds and a small local appropriation will finish this item that was omitted in the original project due to shortage of funding at that time.

The critical need at this time in our school system is Technology.

The county is well aware that the current situation regarding computer upgrades is far behind where it needs to be. With the elimination of ADM funding for technology by the state, our replacement schedule has grown from a five year replacement schedule to a nine year replacement schedule. In addition to that, in less than two years (2014) the state will require all local School Systems to be able to do assessments, and send end of grade reports electronically to Raleigh. In order to meet this critical need now it will require an estimated $1,500,000 in funding specifically for Information Technology. This budget includes a proposal to seek a low interest (around 1.75%) short term (54 month) loan in order to immediately address this issue. The debt will be paid back in yearly fund balance appropriations. This would not only solve the immediate problem but preserve the county fund balance in case of emergency. The estimated loan payment of $311,829 is included in this proposed budget. If the economy improves the county would reserve the right to retire the debt before the end of the term.

Macon County Schools County Funding
For Current Expense and Debt Service

FY 12-13 Current Exp- CO-Solid Waste- Supplement- Debt Service..........$12,384,421

FY 12-13 Total Macon County General Fund Budget..........$44,275,869

Percent of Total General Fund Budget..........28%

Appropriation as a Percent of Property Taxes..........48.89%

The proposed FY 2012/2013 budget recommends the county appropriation to the School Current Expense budget increase to the FY 2009/2010 level of $6,911,000 and the Capital Outlay Budget be funded at $256,000. With current capital outlay at this level of funding the School System could be able to meet at least some of their current critical capital needs. As noted earlier, county funding addresses the $1,500,000 technology need in the school system. The proposed budget continues to include full funding for the teacher supplement.

Public Safety

Another ongoing concern and high priority is public safety. With this in mind the recommendation in this proposed budget is to replace two four wheel drive ambulances in the EMS Department, and six patrol vehicles in the Sheriff’s Department. This will help Macon County preserve our rotation system and preserve our readiness to be fully prepared and able to respond effectively and efficiently when the need arises.

Funding for outside agencies in the Special Appropriations budget remains at current year levels.

The proposed budget for Macon County for Fiscal Year 2012/2013 as required by state statute is balanced with revenues and expenditures of $44,275,869 and is hereby submitted for your review and consideration.

Respectfully,

C. Jack Horton
County Manager/ Budget Officer


Here are the recommended budget for 2012-2013 and the approved budget from 2011-2012, followed by the recommended budget from last year:


2012-13 Admin Recommended Budget for Macon County

2012 Board Approved Budget for Macon County

2012 Admin Recommended Budget







Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Macon County Commissioners 05-21-2012
Budget Work Session I


The Macon county Commissioners met last night at about the same time as the Franklin Town Board of Aldermen and I covered that meeting first [see coverage of that meeting], then when it was over, joined the budget work session of the Macon County Commissioners at about 7:30pm for the last half of that meeting. I have embedded the audio below, along with a link so that you may download it to your computer or MP3 Player and listen at your convenience. I will have the video ready as soon as I can. Perhaps by the end of the week.


Download MP3


Macon County Manager's Office • Budget Message
(828) 349-2025

May 8, 2012

Macon County Board of Commissioners

Chairman: Kevin Corbin
Vice-Chair: Bobby Kuppers
Commissioner: Ronnie Beale
Commissioner: Ron Haven
Commissioner: Jimmy Tate


Gentlemen,

In accordance with the North Carolina Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act, I am pleased to present to you the proposed budget for Macon County for fiscal year 2012/2013.

Macon County continues to maintain an enviable position in comparison to many counties in North Carolina. The county remains in sound financial condition, and currently has the lowest ad-valorem property tax rate among all counties in North Carolina (@ 27.9 cents per $100). Our county credit rating this year was raised by Standard and Poor’s from an A to an A+. Our fund balance is stable and allows the county to have reserves in an amount equal to at least three months of operating expenditures. This provides a strong degree of financial security in terms of being prepared for unexpected emergencies or shortfalls in revenue. The healthy fund balance, a conservative approach to budgeting, along with a consistent tax collection rate contributes to Macon County’s favorable Bond Rating.

There are many positive accomplishments the county can be proud of, while at the same time being vigilant in our approach to responsible financial planning. I sincerely believe this is what is meant by being a good steward of public funds. I will take time in this budget message to emphasize both highlights of the current year, and the challenges facing the county next year.

On the revenue side of the budget, growth in the tax base is minimal and although sales taxes have somewhat stabilized they continue to fall short of past years growth experience. We, like everyone continue to hope for a better economy next year.

During the past year Macon County continued with several major projects and has made considerable progress on these. The following list provides some insight on these very important contributions to the future of Macon County.

  • Construction continues on the new K-4 Iotla Valley Elementary School, (Construction Cost) $11,300,000, $118.00 per square foot, financed at a net interest rate to the county of 0.48 %. The debt will retire in 17 years, and the school is on schedule to be completed and occupied by this August. 


  • Little Tennessee/Cartoogechaye Creek Sewer Interceptor Line: The main line is now operational. When we complete the reuse system at the landfill, the project we will be finished. We expect to finalize by June 30th. 

  • The Riverbend Road/ Highway 28 North, water project is now complete along with a new 500,000 gallon finished water storage tank (Wilkie Street Tank). Funds to extend new water service to the Swiss Colony subdivision area are available, and we are waiting for the Town of Franklin to acquire the necessary easements and rights of way in order to let the contract on this additional phase of the project. 

  • The Macon County Airport runway extension project has been completed after nearly 10 years of delays and setbacks. The county in this year’s budget appropriated enough funds ($232,634) to match a new Federal Aviation Administration grant of ($2,093,706) for the rehabilitation and repaving of the airport apron. This project will begin this fiscal year but likely will not be completed until early next fiscal year. 

  • Renovation is well underway on the new Sherriff’s Office on Palmer Street. We expect to have the work completed by June 30, and hopefully fully occupied by then. 

  • The Barrett Building renovation is proceeding well and with any luck we should have that project completed this summer. In addition to renovating the top floor, and installing a state of the art communications system for the county’s Emergency 911 Center, a new interior accessible elevator will be installed to make the entire building more ADA compliant and handicap accessible. 

  • The Business Development Center (Incubator) has suddenly taken off with renewed interest. We have several new businesses that have located there this year and have recently had request for more space. We hope to be able to relocate the DMV Drivers License Office and utilize that space for business development purposes soon.
Challenges for the Coming Year

In order to fund essential county services, meet the county’s debt service obligation on capital projects, and maintain critical needs in education and public safety, we have made decisions and recommendations that prioritize ,and in many cases reduce departmental and agency budget requests this year. There are many worthwhile and commendable projects, programs, and services that have merit and still need to be funded and or implemented, but have not been included in this proposal due to lack of additional revenue.

The original approved general fund budget for this year (2011/2012) was $42,775,263. Due to continuing contracts and additional revenue the current revised budget for this year is $45,788,503. The proposed general fund budget for fiscal year (2012/2013) is $44,275,869.

The proposed budget for (2012/13) is 3.5% more than the (2011/2012) original approved general fund budget, and is 3.3% less than the revised current year general fund budget. The increase is due in large part because of additional appropriations from fund balance not from a growth in general fund revenues. This is basically a no growth budget except for one time expenditures from fund balance reserve.

The county General Fund operating budget is balanced within existing revenues. No property tax increase is requested or recommended. We have reduced requests for capital outlay from our departments and trimmed other expenses where feasible. Our goal over the past four years has been to maintain the current level of service without additional staff. We have been able to do that by leaving non critical positions unfilled throughout county departments. We have asked county staff to take on additional work load with no salary adjustment. We continue to fill only essential positions when they become vacant.

Our county employees have worked hard to do their job without complaint as they continue to help us hold the line on spending while delivering essential county services. Macon County is indeed fortunate to have such dedicated and devoted employees. The Board earlier this year authorized a new classification and pay plan study that is almost ready for presentation. We do not have the financial impact of that study at this time, and therefore have not budgeted anything at this point for implementation of the approved plan. We will continue to work with Springsted (our consultant) on an implementation plan when we receive the final report. At this point the proposed budget contains no salary adjustments.

Our self-funded health insurance program continues to remain strong. We have not had to increase our rates for employees/dependant coverage in four years due to the fact our loss in claims has been favorable. We are not proposing an increase in employee contributions at this time. This will be the fifth consecutive year without an increase. I anticipate that next year (2013/2014) that will definitely change.

Every year, Macon County strives to improve services, recruit and retain quality employees and work to maintain and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. We are committed to maintaining our leadership position in Western North Carolina. Macon County enjoys a reputation of being a forward thinking progressive county that seeks to preserve the quality of life while carefully balancing the needs of our citizens and the tax burden they are asked to bear. I believe this proposed county budget reflects that commitment.

There are several key issues we have addressed as we prepared this spending plan for next year. Here are a few highlights of that plan. A full and complete line item detail has been prepared that gives a thorough breakdown of each expenditure, appropriation and revenue source.

The state is still facing yet another budget crisis next year. With the General Assembly in session we remain concerned that the state could shift additional responsibilities and/or reduce county funding to correct its budget crisis. We hope that will not be the case. We have been reassured by our legislators that the state will not balance their budget on the backs of the counties this year. So far they seem to be holding to that pledge. I remain guardedly optimistic

Education remains a priority for Macon County

In the past four years Macon County has made an enormous commitment to our local educational system in terms of capital improvement needs as the following demonstrates.

Macon County Public School Capital Funding

Capital improvements to East Franklin Elementary School (QZAB)..........$2,000,000
New Intermediate School and expansion to East Franklin..........$20,000,000
Purchase (Owens) property for Mountain View Intermediate..........$2,600,000
Nantahala Renovation (QZAB)..........$1,800,000
Iotla Valley Elementary School Construction..........$13,869,000
Franklin High School Improvements..........$1,321,000
Highlands School Improvements and sports fields..........$938,000
Macon Middle School Air Conditioning..........$80,000
South Macon Access Road..........$88,657
Union Academy roof replacement..........$62,765
____________________________________________________________________

Total County Funded School Capital Projects since 2008..........$42,759,422

We plan to complete the window replacement on the Nantahala School in the coming year. Leftover QZAB funds and a small local appropriation will finish this item that was omitted in the original project due to shortage of funding at that time.

The critical need at this time in our school system is Technology.

The county is well aware that the current situation regarding computer upgrades is far behind where it needs to be. With the elimination of ADM funding for technology by the state, our replacement schedule has grown from a five year replacement schedule to a nine year replacement schedule. In addition to that, in less than two years (2014) the state will require all local School Systems to be able to do assessments, and send end of grade reports electronically to Raleigh. In order to meet this critical need now it will require an estimated $1,500,000 in funding specifically for Information Technology. This budget includes a proposal to seek a low interest (around 1.75%) short term (54 month) loan in order to immediately address this issue. The debt will be paid back in yearly fund balance appropriations. This would not only solve the immediate problem but preserve the county fund balance in case of emergency. The estimated loan payment of $311,829 is included in this proposed budget. If the economy improves the county would reserve the right to retire the debt before the end of the term.

Macon County Schools County Funding
For Current Expense and Debt Service

FY 12-13 Current Exp- CO-Solid Waste- Supplement- Debt Service..........$12,384,421

FY 12-13 Total Macon County General Fund Budget..........$44,275,869

Percent of Total General Fund Budget..........28%

Appropriation as a Percent of Property Taxes..........48.89%

The proposed FY 2012/2013 budget recommends the county appropriation to the School Current Expense budget increase to the FY 2009/2010 level of $6,911,000 and the Capital Outlay Budget be funded at $256,000. With current capital outlay at this level of funding the School System could be able to meet at least some of their current critical capital needs. As noted earlier, county funding addresses the $1,500,000 technology need in the school system. The proposed budget continues to include full funding for the teacher supplement.

Public Safety

Another ongoing concern and high priority is public safety. With this in mind the recommendation in this proposed budget is to replace two four wheel drive ambulances in the EMS Department, and six patrol vehicles in the Sheriff’s Department. This will help Macon County preserve our rotation system and preserve our readiness to be fully prepared and able to respond effectively and efficiently when the need arises.

Funding for outside agencies in the Special Appropriations budget remains at current year levels.

The proposed budget for Macon County for Fiscal Year 2012/2013 as required by state statute is balanced with revenues and expenditures of $44,275,869 and is hereby submitted for your review and consideration.

Respectfully,

C. Jack Horton
County Manager/ Budget Officer


Here are the recommended budget for 2012-2013 and the approved budget from 2011-2012, followed by the recommended budget from last year:


2012-13 Admin Recommended Budget for Macon County

2012 Board Approved Budget for Macon County

2012 Admin Recommended Budget



Bookmark and Share

NC General Assembly for 05-22-2012

NC Legislative Building


The North Carolina General Assembly [link] will convene today. The NC Senate [link] and the NC House [link] are scheduled to meet today.

I have posted the calendar of scheduled legislative activity along with links to where you can listen online to our state legislators as they go about their tasks. I do not plan on listening or recording today, save for the Hackney and Stam Pressers, which no one else seems to be posting online.

Another good source of live and recorded audio of the NC General Assembly is Voter Radio. Check out their website. [link]

If you experience problems listening to the meetings via the links below, try the North Carolina General Assembly website. [link]
 


8:30 AM
Appropriations Subcommittee on Justice and Public Safety (House)

415 LOB
9:00 AM
Appropriations Subcommittee on Education (House)

421 LOB
9:00 AM
Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural and Economic Resources(House)

424 LOB
9:00 AM
Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation (House)

1228/1327
9:30 AMRep. Tolson/Press ConferencePress Room LB
10:00 AM
Education (House)
Broaden Successful AP Participation. (H965)
Repeal Prohibition on Teacher Prepayment. (H966)
643 LOB
10:00 AM
Judiciary I (Senate)
Various Emergency Management Changes. (S798)
Magistrates/Calendaring. (H517)
RE Closing Interest/Civil Penalty UPL. (H690)
Amend Innocence Commission Laws. (H778)
Allow Court to Assess Atty Fees/50C Orders. (H803)
1027 LB
10:00 AM
Judiciary II (Senate)
Modify Move Over Law. (H345)
Habitual Misdemeanor Larceny. (H54)
Utilities Commission/Criminal Records Check. (H340)
1124 LB
10:00 AMRep. Avila - Right On Crime InitiativePress Room LB
11:00 AM
Commerce (Senate)
Regulatory Reform Act of 2012. (S810)
Banking Law Modernization Act. (S816)
1027 LB
11:30 AMRep. Hackney/Press ConferencePress Room LB
12:00 PMRep. Stam/Press ConferencePress Room LB
2:00 PM
Session Convenes (House)


INTRODUCED BILLS
(Reminder: Members may electronically cosponsor these bills until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday)
HB 1014 Howard - REFORM OVERSIGHT OF STATE-OWNED VEHICLES. 
(STUDY COMMISSION)
HB 1015 Howard and Starnes (Primary Sponsors) - SET PUBLIC UTILITY AND INSURANCE REGULATORY FEES.
HB 1016 Hamilton - LOWER CAPE FEAR DESIGN-BUILD.
HB 1017 Dockham and McGee (Primary Sponsors) - CHANGES TO COMMERCE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS. (STUDY COMMISSION) 
HB 1018 Dockham - YADKIN VALLEY CAREER ACADEMY.
HR 1019 Current - HONOR ALAN DICKSON.
HR 1020 Goodman - PATRIOT OUTREACH.
HB 1021 Stam - JUSTICE REINVESTMENT CLARIFICATIONS. 
(STUDY COMMISSION) 
HR 1022 Boles - HONOR RICK RHYNE.
HB 1023 Daughtry - EXPUNCTION/NONVIOLENT OFFENSES. 
(STUDY COMMISSION) 
HB 1024 Howard and Starnes (Primary Sponsors) - UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CHANGES. (STUDY COMMISSION) 
HB 1025 Howard and Starnes (Primary Sponsors) - EXTEND TAX PROVISIONS. 
(STUDY COMMISSION) 
HB 1026 Howard and Starnes (Primary Sponsors) - REVENUE LAWS TECHNICAL, CLARIFYING, & ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES. (STUDY COMMISSION) 
HB 1027 Howard and Starnes (Primary Sponsors) - EXPEDITED RULE MAKING FOR 
FORCED COMBINATION. (STUDY COMMISSION) 
HB 1028 Howard and Starnes (Primary Sponsors) - APPRAISAL MANAGEMENT 
COMPANY REPORTED TO DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE. 
(STUDY COMMISSION) 
HB 1029 Holloway and Jones (Primary Sponsors) - MAYODAN MANAGER RESIDENCY.
HB 1030 Blackwell, Avila and Hager (Primary Sponsors) - ACCOUNTABILITY FOR 
TAXPAYER INVESTMENT ACT. (STUDY COMMISSION) 
HB 1031 Blackwell, Avila and Hager (Primary Sponsors) - SMARTER 
GOVERNMENT/BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE INITIATIVE. 
(STUDY COMMISSION) 
HB 1032 Blackwell and Gillespie (Primary Sponsors) - MORGANTON DEANNEXATION.
HJR 1033 T. Moore, Killian, Martin and Cleveland (Primary Sponsors) - HONOR 
VETERANS.


UNFINISHED BUSINESS
RECONSIDERATION OF VETOED BILLS
HB 7 Ingle, Cleveland and McCormick (Primary Sponsors) - COMMUNITY 
COLLEGES/OPT OUT OF FEDERAL LOAN PROGRAM. 
(Vetoed by Governor - 4/13/11) (Ratified Edition)
HB 351 Lewis, T. Moore and Killian (Primary Sponsors) - RESTORE CONFIDENCE IN 
GOVERNMENT. (Vetoed by Governor - 6/23/11) 
(Veto Override Vote Reconsidered - 7/26/11) (Ratified Edition)
HB 482 Burr - WATER SUPPLY LINES/WATER VIOLATION WAIVERS. 
(Vetoed by Governor - 6/27/11) (Ratified Edition)
SB 709 Rucho, Brown and Tucker (Primary Sponsors) - ENERGY JOBS ACT. 
(Vetoed by Governor - 6/30/11) (Ratified Edition)
House
2:00 PM
Session Convenes (Senate)


INTRODUCTIONS
SB 832 Pate PROVISIONAL LICENSURE CHANGES MEDICAID.-AB
SB 833 Pate GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVE SALE OF DIX PROPERTY.
SB 834 Pate PARTNERSHIP FOR CHILDREN PARTICIPANT RECORDS.
SB 835 Pate ELIMINATE LME PROVIDER ENDORSEMENT.-AB
SB 836 Brown IMPROVE PROPERTY INSURANCE RATE MAKING.
SJR 837 Hartsell REFORM WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT.
SB 838 Hartsell TECHNICAL CHANGE/EXEMPT PROPERTY FORM.
SB 839 Hartsell REFORM OVERSIGHT OF STATE-OWNED VEHICLES.
SB 840 Hartsell PERMANENT LICENSE PLATES.
SB 841 Hartsell EFFECTIVE UTILIZATION OF PED.
SB 842 Hartsell CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAM SOLVENCY AND SUPPORT.
SB 843 Hartsell INTESTATE PROPERTY/CHILD'S YEAR'S ALLOWANCE.
SB 844 Hartsell AMEND UCC ARTICLE 9/SECURED TRANSACTIONS.
SB 845 Hartsell CO-OWNERS/UNEQUAL SHARES/SIMULTANEOUS DEATH.
SB 846 Hartsell PASSING TITLE BY WILL.
SB 847 Hartsell GENERAL STATUTES COMM. TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS.
SB 848 McKissick Atwater
DURHAM CITY ASSESSMENTS.
SB 849 Goolsby AMEND OFFICER SALARY CONTINUATION.
SB 850 Brown Goolsby Rabon
LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT OF FISH & WILDLIFE MGMT.
SB 851 Brown Rouzer Soucek
BOARDS & COMMISSIONS EFFICIENCY ACT OF 2012.
SB 852 Daniel D. Berger
TRANSFER FRAUD UNIT.
SB 853 Hartsell NCCS 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL PLATE.
SB 854 McKissick Bingham Brown
PROHIBIT USE OF TAX-ZAPPER SOFTWARE.
SB 855 Clodfelter AMEND COURT RECORDING REQUIREMENTS.
Senate
2:00 PM OR 30 MINUTES AFTER SESSION
Judiciary (House)
Eugenics Compensation Program. (H947)
544 LOB



Bookmark and Share