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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Macon County Commissioners
Budget Work Session II: Public Safety

Macon County Commissioners
Budget Work Session II Public Safety

Here is the video of the second budget work session of the Macon County Commissioners. You can see the first one by clicking here.

This session lasted for two hours and forty minutes.



The next budget work session has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 4th at 5.30pm and will focus on the budget request by the Macon County School Board. You might get a handle on what the Board of Education will be presenting to the County Commissioners by watching the last meeting of the Board of Education.

Macon County Planning Board May 30, 2013

Planning Board May 2013






The Macon County Planning Board met yesterday for it's regular monthly meeting. The main topic of discussion was the proposed Flood Plain Ordinance. A dozen people spoke against allowing fill in the flood plain.

Members of the board discussed NC Senate Bill 612, which, if signed into law, would render the current discussion moot because it would not allow the counties to pass regulations that are more stringent than state regulations. Some members of the public wanted the board to prohibit fill in the flood plain regardless of what the state did because they felt that the bill, if signed into law, would be overturned through litigation.

To keep track of the progress of the bill, click here. I have also embedded a copy of the text as it currently stands at the end of this article. 


MEDIA ROLL CALL

The Franklin Press and Macon Media (me) were the only news media organizations that were present at the meeting.

COMMENTARY

I expect that this bill will pass the NC House and be signed into law and will successfully stand potential challenges in the state court system.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS



NC Senate Bill 612 Vote History
DateSubjectRCS #AyeNoN/VExc. Abs.Exc. VoteTotalResult
05/01/2013 2:23PMAmendment 1[S] - 23247102048PASS
05/01/2013 2:25PMAmendment 2[S] - 23345302048PASS
05/01/2013 2:39PMSecond Reading[S] - 234361202048PASS
05/02/2013 12:51PMAmendment 3[S] - 25447003047PASS
05/02/2013 12:52PMAmendment 4[S] - 25547003047PASS
05/02/2013 12:53PMThird Reading[S] - 256361103047PASS
Viewing All Votes (6)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Franklin Aldermen June 2013 Meeting Agenda

Aldermen Meeting Agenda Title Card

Here is the public agenda and the press kit for the JUne meeting of the Franklin Town Board of Aldermen. I plan on being there to record this meeting.



Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen 
Meeting Agenda
Monday June 3, 2013 - 7:00 p.m. 

  1. Call to order -Mayor Collins
  2. Approval of the May 6 and May 14, 2013 board minutes
  3. Public hearing 7:05 p.m. on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-2014
    • Consideration of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-2014
  4. Public session
  5. New business
    • Re-zoning petition by the Town of Franklin for East Main Street, Gaston Street, Green Street and West Palmer Street- Land Use Administrator Derek Roland
    • Re-zoning petition by residents of Pauline Avenue - Land Use Administrator Derek Roland
    • Application to amend text only of the Unified Development Ordinance for regulating the location of electronic machines and sweepstakes- Land Use Administrator Derek Roland
    • Town of Franklin Internet Usage Policy- Human Resource Officer Ashley Hyder
    • Town of Franklin Banner Policy- Town Manager Warren Cabe
    • Sewer flow allocation for Burnette Hill Road- Town Manager Warren Cabe
    • Budget amendments- Finance Officer Janet Anderson
    • Alcohol Beverage Control Board vacancy- Town Manager Warren Cabe
  6. Legal
    • Wilkie Street water tank road easement- Town Attorney John Henning Jr.,
    • Resolution to delegate authority to determine tax releases or refunds of tax of less than one hundred dollars to the Town Manager- Town Attorney John Henning Jr.,
  7. Adjourn



Macon County Board of Education 05-28-2013

Board of Education May 28 2013

Here is video of the May meeting of the Macon County Board of Education that took place on Monday, May 28, 2013. The video could not have been recorded without the help of Travis Tallent, a reporter for the Macon County News

Macon County Commissioners 05-28-2013

Commissioners May 28 2013

Here is video of the first budget work session by the Macon County Commissioners for the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day
General Order No 11 and a History of the Observance

General Order No 11


General Order No. 11

"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic." -- General Logan - May 5, 1868



Today is the day set aside for remembering fallen veterans. 

The local Memorial Day ceremonies:

FRANKLIN -- Veterans Memorial Park at 1288 Georgia Rd. Ceremony begins at 11:15am. In case of rain, the ceremony will take place at the Fine Arts Building on the campus of Franklin High School at 100 Panther Drive. More information on how you can contribute to the Veterans Memorial Park of Macon County.

SYLVA -- Veterans Memorial Fountain on Main Street. Ceremony begins at noon. In case of rain, the ceremony will take place at the Bridge Park Pavilion.


I have found and posted General Order No. 11, which established Memorial Day as an observance by General Logan and a brief history of Memorial Day from the Veterans Administration.



HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC

General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868




The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.
By order of

JOHN A. LOGAN,
Commander-in-Chief

N.P. CHIPMAN,
Adjutant General

Official:
WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.




A HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAY

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

Local Observances Claim To Be First Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.

Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.

Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.

It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

Some States Have Confederate Observances Many Southern states also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day January 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.

Gen. Logan’s order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 “with the choicest flowers of springtime” urged: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

The crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was approximately the same size as those that attend today’s observance, about 5,000 people. Then, as now, small American flags were placed on each grave — a tradition followed at many national cemeteries today. In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.

The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation’s wars: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”

To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”


Friday, May 24, 2013

USFS hold Plan Revision Session for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in Franklin

Plan Revision Session
Here is video of the USFS Plan Revision Session that took place in Franklin last night.

More information from the US Forest Service.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Macon County Commissioners 05-20-2013

**update 1.51pm** Here is a copy of the proposed budget:


Macon Commissioners 05-20-2013
Here is the video of Monday night's meeting of the Macon County Commissioners that took place in Highlands, NC. I have also included the public agenda for your convenience and the press kit in the interest of promoting transparency. No other local media organization makes this information available to the citizens of Macon County.



If you are interested in just the budget message that was delivered by county manager Jack Horton, please read this article. To date, I have not been able to obtain a copy of the proposed budget and am continuing to seek one so that I might be able to share it with you.

MACON COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MAY 20, 2013 – 7 P.M.
CONTINUED SESSION
AGENDA
HIGHLANDS CIVIC CENTER
600 NORTH 4TH STREET
HIGHLANDS, NC

 1. Reconvene and welcome by Chairman Corbin
 2. Announcements
 3. Moment of Silence
 4. Pledge of Allegiance
 5. Public Hearing(s) – none
 6. Public Comment Period
 7. Adjustments to and approval of the agenda
 8. Reports/Presentations
     A. Presentation of the proposed Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget – County Manager
 9. Old Business
10.New Business
     A. Presentation of proposed revisions to the subdivision ordinance – County Attorney
     B. Establishment of a cemetery board for Macon County – County Attorney
     C. Consideration of bid for computer hardware for Macon County Schools
     D. Funding for No-Rise Study at Macon County Airport – County Manager
     E. Southwestern Commission Regional Visioning Effort – Chairman Corbin
     F. Consideration of declaring ambulance as surplus and donating the same to the Town of Highlands     Police Department – County Manager and County Attorney
11.Consent Agenda
All items below are considered routine and will be enacted by one motion. No separate discussion will be held except on request of a member of the Board of Commissioners.
     A. Minutes of the April 9th, April 12th, April 18th, and April 23rd meetings
     B. Budget amendments #169, #174 and #175
     C. Tax releases (none)
     D. Consideration of county management records retention and
disposition schedule
     E. Change to Macon County Public Health Fee Schedule
     F. Pool hours/prices for Macon County Parks and Recreation
    G. Monthly ad valorem tax report (no action necessary)
12.Appointments
    A. Board of Health (three seats)
    B. Social Services Board (one seat)
    C. Planning Board (one seat)
13.Closed session (if necessary)
14.Adjournment/Recess



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

NC Public Utilities Commission to hold Public Hearing in Franklin Tonight

UPDATE: Here is the video of the public hearing.







A May 21 hearing will be held in Franklin on Duke Energy Carolinas’ 9.7 percent rate-hike request.

The hearing will be one of six the N.C. Utilities Commission scheduled, that will end in a July 8 public hearing in Raleigh where Duke Energy and expert witnesses will offer testimony. 


See video of the previous public hearing at http://thunderpigblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/nc-public-utilities-hearing-in-franklin.html

======
Duke Carolinas’ rate request is its third since 2009. Customers will be asked to pay for the $3.8 billion the company has spent since 2011 on new power plants and upgrades to nuclear plants and transmission systems.

While Duke is seeking a 9.7 percent overall increase, most residential customers would pay about 14 percent more. The Utilities Commission has to approve any increase.

In its most recent previous rate case, settled in January 2012, Duke agreed to an increase of less than half the size of its original request.

Duke Carolinas serves 1.9 million customers, mostly in North Carolina’s western half.

Tonight's hearing will start at 7pm on the fourth floor of the Macon County Courthouse.


You can download PDFs of all pertinent testimony at http://is.gd/13DECDOCS


Be aware that there will be plenty of people present at the Duke Energy Rate Increase public hearing, and, as always, the majority of them will have been fully coached on what to say and how to say it via workshops and Webinars. 


For example:

Wednesday, May 15, 6:30 pm: How to Tell a Compelling Story. This training by NC WARN organizers will focus on how to tell a compelling story when testifying at upcoming NC Utility Commission public hearings on the Duke Energy rate hike. Use what you learn to speak out for the real public good!

Link #1: http://www.ncwarn.org/2012/12/irp-and-rate-hike-hearings/


Link #2: http://www.consumersagainstratehikes.org/take-action/duke-energy-rate-hike/

Politics is involved with the opposition to the rate hike. Read more about that on a progressive blog at https://www.bluenc.com/public-hearings-duke-energy-rate-hike

Macon County Manager's Budget Message Delivered to County Commissioners

**update** 05-22-2013 Here is a copy of the proposed budget:


Update #1: I have added a copy of last year's budget message for comparison's sake at the end of this article.

Update #2: Here is a searchable text of the current budget message...


Macon County Manager's Office • Budget Message 

May 20, 2013

Macon County Board of Commissioners
Chairman: Kevin Corbin
Vice-Chair: : Ronnie Beale
Commissioner: Ron Haven
Commissioner: Paul Higdon
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 2013-2014.

Macon County continues to maintain a solid financial position compared with many counties in North Carolina. The county currently has the lowest ad-valorem property tax rate among all 100 counties in North Carolina (@ 27.9 cents per $100) , and our fund balance remains healthy. This continues to provide a high 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 A+ Bond Rating.

The past year has been remarkable for Macon County in terms of positive accomplishments, especially in an era of economic distress throughout our state and nation. We are very pleased that the record will show the county has been vigilant in its approach to responsible financial planning while making needed improvements and investments in the future of all our citizens. I sincerely believe this is what is expected in order to be good stewards of the public trust. I will take time in this budget message to emphasize both highlights of the current year, and the challenges facing the county next year.
Current Year Highlights
  • This past year we have seen the completion of the new K-4 Iotla Valley Elementary School. The school opened on time and under budget at a cost of ($11,300,000) or $118.00 per square foot, and was financed with Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCB) at a net interest rate of .48% for a term of 17 years
  • Replacement windows were installed in the newly renovated Nantahala School with savings from the $1,800,000 renovation that was completed last year.
  • Construction renovation ($1,5000,000) has begun on the Highlands K-12 School with completion hopefully by August 26th.This project is being funded by the county using (QZAB) Qualified Zone Academy Bonds at a net interest of 0%.
  • The county has coordinated the funding and administration of the Swiss Colony water project for the Town of Franklin. Total cost is $750,000 .The project will be completed this month. This was a part of the original Highway 28 North, Riverbend water project of $1,800,000. The entire system will be transferred to the Town Of Franklin for maintenance and operation.
  • Macon County funded a 10% match ($200,000) for the $ 2,000,000 Macon County Airport Apron renewal project which is now complete. The Airport is in line now for additional FAA funding for the next fiscal year for a project to widen the runway.
  • We have completed the renovation of the new Sheriff’s Office on Palmer Street along with a new DMV Drivers License Office at the same location.
  • The Barrett building renovation is complete including a state of the art Emergency Communications Center and elevator service to all three floors.
  • With the priority of keeping our public safety equipment up to date, this year we purchased 6 new patrol vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department, 2 new Ambulances and 12 new defibrillator/monitor machines for each of our ambulances in the Emergency Medical Services Department. We also added an Autopluse machine for each base in EMS.
  • Thanks to the efforts of our Finance Director and BB&T, we were able to refinance long term existing debt for the county saving over $2,700,000 in interest charges.
  • We were able to provide $1,500,000 to the Macon County Public School System that enabled them to upgrade all their current Information Technology equipment.
  • We renovated the Pool House and the Swimming Pool at the Macon County Recreation Parkmaking it a safe, modern, and family friendly facility. It opens this month.
  • The county was able to purchase a 48 acre tract of land known as Parker Meadows, which in time will be developed into a state of the art ball park and recreation facility containing 8 softball/ baseball fields along with other amenities
  • Our Economic Development efforts are paying off with increased activity in the Business Development Center with new prospects for job creation. We were extremely fortunate to be able help Tri Corn International acquire and establish a new business here (Franklin Tubular Products) to replace Whitley Products. Our EDC Director, the Economic Development Commission, and both the Town of Franklin and Macon County contributed to making this a success.
  • Our new Macon County Health Department Dental Clinic is now up and running and we are completing the long awaited renovation of the Holly Springs Community Development Building this month.
Highlights of the Proposed Budget
On the revenue side of the budget, growth in the tax base is minimal (less than 1%) but sales taxes have begun to increase modestly (2%). We have managed to deal effectively with the fiscal challenges, and continue to hope for an improved economy next year.

We started the budget process this year with a mid-year retreat/work session with the Board of Commissioners. It was the consensus of the Board at that time that we would construct a budget without an adjustment to the property tax rate. This proposed budget meets that objective.

After discussing possible goals and objectives for the coming year a budget schedule was presented, and we have tried to stay with that timetable as closely as possible. It is as follows: 
MACON COUNTY
FY 2013/2014 BUDGET CALENDAR

January 19, 2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BOCC receives FY 2013/2014 budget calendar

Feb. 15, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Preliminary Budget Meeting with Department Heads

March 15, 2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Departments complete line item budget input and return hard                                                         copy requests and narratives.

March 25, 2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Print line item budget report for County Manager review.

April 1 - April 12, 2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . County Manager meetings with department heads

April 15, 2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Macon County Schools and outside agencies submit budget                                                       requests.

May 14, 2013. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Manager’s recommended budget presented to BOCC with                                                                    message; distributed to department heads, posted on County                                                       webpage.

May 15, 2013 until. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Work Sessions with Board

June 11, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Public hearing on the budget

June 18, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Board adopts budget

Revenue Projections


The following charts and graphs may prove helpful as we view the Revenues and Expenditures in the proposed budget. (Graphs and charts to follow) We have also listed below definitions of revenue and expenditure categories.

EXPLANATION OF REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE CATEGORIES
REVENUES BY SOURCE
  • Property tax- collections of current year and prior year unit-wide tax levies; interest on delinquent taxes; late listing penalties; and other costs of collecting delinquent taxes.
  • Other Tax- collections of taxes from special tax districts; animal taxes; deed stamp excise taxes; real property transfer taxes; scrap tire disposal taxes; local occupancy taxes; prepared food taxes; 911 charges; white goods disposal tax; and privilege and other license taxes.
  • Sales Tax- collections of the one percent local option Sales Tax (Article 39) and the one-half of one percent local option Sales Taxes (Articles 40, 42,).
  • Sales and Services- parking revenues; rents and royalties; airport revenues; fire protection charges; solid waste charges; ambulance and rescue squad charges; cemetery revenues; recreational service revenues; library service revenues; other cultural and recreational service revenues; client and third party payments for health, mental health, social services, and nursing home services; mass transit revenues; and water/sewer charges.
  • Intergovernmental- federal, state, and local financial assistance including payments in lieu of taxes; equitable sharing of federally forfeited property; categorical grants; controlled substance taxes; distributions of beer and wine taxes; payments of court costs. Public School Building Capital Fund revenues; Public School Building Bond Fund revenues; and lottery receipts for school construction
  • Miscellaneous- building permits; Register of Deeds’ fees; building inspection fees; other permits; investment earnings; special assessments; private contributions and donations; sales of materials, fixed assets, and real property; ABC Board bottle taxes; ABC Board profit distributions; proceeds of the sale of bonds and notes; proceeds of lease purchase agreements; and other Miscellaneous Revenues
EXPENDITURES BY FUNCTION
  • Education - appropriations to school administrative units and to community college systems for current operations and capital outlays
  • Debt Service - principal, interest, and fees paid or accrued on debt.
  • Human Services - expenditures for the public health, mental health, and social services programs; veterans’ service officers; legal aid; appropriations to hospital; county’s share of Medicaid payments, Work First expenses, and Special Assistance to Adults; county’s share paid to multi-county health district and an area mental health authority; and payments of the 5-cent ABC Board bottle tax.
  • General Government - expenditures for the governing body, administration, elections, finance, revaluations, legal services, Register of Deeds, construction and maintenance of public buildings not related to other functions, court facilities, and net central services.
  • Public Safety - expenditures for the sheriff’s department, jails, emergency communications, emergency management activities, fire protection, building inspections, rescue and ambulance services, animal control, and medical examiners or coroners.
  • Other - expenditures for transportation, solid waste, drainage and watershed, cemeteries, planning and zoning, economic and community development, agriculture extension programs, special employment programs, culture and recreation, water and sewer, unallocated fringe benefits, and miscellaneous expenditures.
Fund Balance Available and Appropriated

We strive to maintain a stable fund balance that meets or exceeds the goal of keeping a fund balance by year’s end equal to at least 25% of total expenditures. This is vitally important in order to keep Macon County financially prepared and fiscally sound. Our policy is to only appropriate fund balance to cover capital and/or one time discretionary expenses.

Fund balance "available" is the statutory concept that describes the amount of funds local governments legally have available to be appropriated in the coming fiscal year. It is essential that ad valorem tax-levying units, such as municipalities and counties, maintain an adequate amount of fund balance available to meet their cash flow needs during the months in their revenue cycles when outflows exceed inflows. This ensures that the unit can meet current obligations and to prevent the unit from experiencing cash flow difficulties.

The Local Government Commission policy requires that, on June 30, units maintain a minimum balance of 8 percent of the prior year’s expenditures, or approximately one month of expenditures.

North Carolina counties have historically maintained fund balance available levels well above the 8 percent minimum as a cushion against unexpected expenditures, emergencies or declines in revenues. Bond rating agencies reinforce the notion that fund balance should be above 8 percent and that higher levels are required for sound financial management. The higher balance is often necessary because the available fund balance many times includes restricted amounts, such as sales tax that is restricted for school capital outlay and funds set aside for debt service.

Using the 8 percent fund balance metric as a target, rather than an absolute minimum, may have devastating effects on the fiscal health of North Carolina counties. Across the state, the average fund balance amounts maintained by counties have been fairly consistent throughout the recent economic downturn. Counties have responded to the current economic downturn by reducing their budgets to avoid depleting fund balance available. Many counties have reduced expenditures through layoffs, furloughs, and service reductions. In addition, some counties have had to raise taxes and fees to maintain their financial stability. Their boards have made the difficult choices to maintain the good fiscal health that North Carolina local governments seek to achieve. Maintaining a strong fund balance is the prudent course for counties especially during these uncertain economic times. Depleting the fund balance could result in the county being forced to raise property taxes in order to meet essential and vital needs of our citizens.

Highlights
  • Tax Assessment: Work is underway now in the property revaluation process. It must be completed and on the books by January 2015. Much of this work will be accomplished during the next fiscal year 2013/2014.
  • Beginning July 1st this year there will be a new process in place by the NC Department of Motor Vehicles. Vehicles subject to property tax (city and county) will be paid at the time of License Plate renewal. This will obviously take some time to adjust to. The net effect will be that eventually local governments will collect 100% of property taxes due on motor vehicles. Our collection rate now is below 90%.
  • In regard to Information Technology, the proposed budget reflects our need to expand capabilities to retrieve and retain additional data associated with all county departments. This means we must continue to invest in new hardware and software accordingly.
  • Public Safety continues to be a top priority in the county budget with the acquisition next year of two new ambulances for our EMS Service, and five new patrol vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department.
  • There are no new county positions included in the proposed budget. We have allowed for funds in the Schools Capital Outlay budget for improvements related to school safety. We had 16 new positions requested in the budget process by multiple departments, but none have been included in the proposed budget due to limited resources.
  • We have been notified that the Macon County Airport Authority has been approved for additional FAA and state funding of approximately $2,900,000 and will require a 10% local match. When that is made official it will be brought to the Board of Commissioners for consideration. It is not reflected in the proposed budget.
  • The Cowee School Project has been separated from the Economic Development budget to better identify the expenditures related to that project. The budget does include a new heating and cooling system for the building. The new system will reduce energy cost and pay back can be realized in two to three years depending on the rising cost of fuel oil.
  • Our Transit budget for Elderly and Handicapped Transportation has been included in the Transit Department’s operations budget for the coming year.
  • Soil Conservation Service includes a grant from Duke Energy, $37,050
  • The Health Department budget includes the Regional Transformational Grant of $570,000. This is pass though money and will not have a permanent effect on the regular Health Department budget.
  • There is a small contribution to the Community Care Clinic. The original request was for $50,000 but due to limited resources it has been recommended to begin at $10,000.
  • The Department of Social Services budget contains $1,460,276 in pass through funds from the state for Day Care payments to providers in Macon County. This is neither revenue nor expenditure in terms of county funding. It inflates the DSS budget arbitrarily, as this was originally paid directly by the state.
  • It should be pointed out that the grants for Health and Social Services account for over 2 million ($2,000,000) in the budget. Without the Transformation Grant and the pass through of Day Care payments from the state, our overall budget would be considerably smaller.
  • The Fontana Regional Library system that operates the Macon County and Hudson Libraries is budgeted for an increase of a 3.15% for the coming year.
  • In addition to the regular annual appropriation for recreation for the Town of Highlands($495,000), the budget reflects an additional $250,000 which represents a joint effort between the town and the county for the Swimming Pool replacement project scheduled for later this year.
Education remains a priority for Macon County

In the past five years Macon County has made an enormous commitment to our local educational system in terms of capital 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
Information Technology for the entire School System...............................$1,500,000
Highlands School Renovation.......................................................................$1,500,000
____________________________________________________________________

Total County Funded School Capital Projects since 2008.......................$45,528,000


Macon County Schools County Funding
For Current Expense and Debt Service

Our local school system is facing a crisis in terms of current operational expense. The primary responsibility counties have is to provide adequate school facilities and the primary responsibility for the state is to fund operational expenses. Over the past couple of years the school system has tried to maintain an operational level created by stimulus funding and erratic state funding. This year’s county funding recommendation is as follows: A 3% increase in Current Expense with a Capital Outlay appropriation of $199,035.

FY 13-14 Current Exp - CO-Solid Waste - Supplement...............$7,819,986

Public School Debt Service - ..................................................... $5,660,676

FY 2014 Total Macon County General Fund Budget................ $46,643,716

School Funding as Percent of General Fund.............................. 28.90%

County Property Taxes ..........................................................$25,394,671

Appropriation as a Percent of Property Taxes........................... 53.08%

Without a reduction in expenses, a revenue shortfall of $1,355,539 will occur next year. A property tax increase of 1.5 cents per hundred dollars valuation would be required to generate this amount of revenue.
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 (2012/2013) was $44,391,193. Due to continuing contracts, grants, and additional revenue the current revised budget for this year is$48,007,997. The proposed general fund budget for fiscal year (2013/2014) is $46,643,716.


The county General Fund operating budget is balanced within existing revenues. The goal set by the Board in January was to create a balanced budget without a tax increase. No property tax increase is requested or reflected in this proposed budget. We have reduced requests for capital outlay and trimmed other expenses where feasible. Our goal over the past five 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 continue to fill only essential positions when they become vacant. Our county employees have worked hard to do their job 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 implemented the new classification and pay plan. Your county employees are very grateful for the Board’s action in bringing our entry level salaries up to minimum recruitment levels and adjusting fair compensation based on the market rate.

Our self funded health insurance program continues to remain strong. We have not increased our rates for employee/dependant coverage in several years due to the fact our claims experience has been favorable. We are not proposing an increase in employee contributions at this time. To do this would sacrifice Macon County’s grandfather status and result in total higher cost for coverage because of tenants of the Affordable Care Act. This will be needing review by January 2014 and adjustments can be considered at that time as a result of full implementation of the Federal Governments Affordable Care Act.

Every year, Macon County strives to improve facilities, provide and maintain services, while we recruit and retain qualified employees. Our goal continues to be improving quality service for citizens and visitors alike. We are committed to maintaining the county’s leadership position in Western North Carolina. Macon County has a reputation of being a forward thinking progressive county that seeks to improve 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.


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 another budget crisis. With the General Assembly still in session we remain concerned that the state could shift additional responsibilities and/or reduce county funding to correct its budget situation. 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. They seem to be trying to hold to that pledge. I remain somewhat optimistic.


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

The proposed budget for Macon County for Fiscal Year 2013 / 2014 as required by state statute is balanced with revenues and expenditures of $46,643,716 and is hereby submitted for your review and consideration.

Respectfully,

C. Jack Horton

County Manager/ Budget Officer


2013-2014 Budget Message

Here is video of the budget message as delivered by county manager Jack Horton at last night's meeting of the Macon County Commissioners in Highlands, NC. A written copy is below the video for your convenience.

I will embed a copy of the budget here when it becomes available.



I will have the full video of that meeting uploaded by sometime this afternoon.







Macon County Manager's Office • Budget Message 

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