The Chatham County Democratic Party's Voting Scorecard provides a comparison of the individual votes of the BOC members on 38 major issues. It mentions that some of my votes differed from my Democratic colleagues'.
I’m serving on my 4th BOC and have served with 11 other commissioners, Dems and Repubs. I’ve never voted entirely in step with any of them. I do my own homework, listen, read, etc. as we all do. Then I make my decisions/votes based on what I believe is best for the county under the current circumstances…as in,
no longer in the majority.
No minority commissioner can sit on this BOC and vote NO to everything and then expect support/votes for issues he or she may bring to the table. We were all aware from the new board majority campaign promises and their budget directions to our Manager and Staff.
I'd like take this opportunity to discuss in more detail some of the votes highlighted in the scorecard
Childhood Obesity Prevention Educator (Vacant Position) in Dept. of Health.
Budget cuts where
directed by the Board majority. The non-mandated position was vacant. If I have
to make personnel
cuts, and I did, I prefer to cut vacant positions. This position can be added
the Health Department
roster under different circumstances…if needed.
I voted to keep the Human Relations Director and the Sustainable Communities
Those jobs were
filled…and this was very short notice of termination in my opinion!
Rescind 2009 BOC resolution that prohibited Sheriff
from enforcing ICE immigration laws.
The BOC has no authority to prohibit
the Sheriff from any law enforcement issues and the
resolution did not state
“prohibit”. I did not want to rescind the 2009 Resolution and I certainly
did not desire to
replace it with the 2011 Proposed Resolution!
Here is what we
were actually faced with:
Resolution…strong opposition to any local government agencies
contracting with US
and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the purpose of enforcing Federal
and encourages local law enforcement to continue using all legal
their authority to enforce the laws of
the United States of America,
the State of North Carolina
County. …that Chatham County
supports the cooperation of local law
with all Federal and State agencies as is necessary and feasible to enforce
also stated “the new resolution is their opinion that they feel they should be
doing all that
they can that is feasible”.
Resolutions were about as far apart as they could get!
Now we all
know the new Board majority had the votes to replace the 2009 Resolution with
Resolution. We should also know that neither resolution has any legal effect on
agencies. They are already sworn to uphold the law and Chatham is already part of the
Communities Program as are all 100 counties in NC.
I discussed the issues separately with
Commissioners Bock and Petty and we came to a compromise
their compromise and our immigrant population should also.
Delay hiring a consultant for developing Land Use
Plan, but “revisit” issue later in year.
This was the first
motion under the new Board majority for Cost Containment and Streamlining.
At an estimated cost
of $300K, the LUP contract was postponed for further discussion.
The new majority did
not feel up to speed on this issue. First time the Chair had seen it and it was
ready to be
Hold LUP Contract
for further discussion: Approved 5-0
Note: We had a LUP
and a map to go with it, before I came on the BOC in 2004. but no one would
approve the map.
Prevailing thought has been to direct growth to our towns where water and sewer
would be available
and help prevent sprawl.
Eliminate Environmental Impact Assessment requirement for
General Use (non-residential) permits that disturbs 2+ acres.
Environmental Assessment (EA) is regulatory only under Conditional
Use permitting by the zoning ordinance. With General Use zoned property, the EA is not
a regulatory tool, but can be helpful to the developer or he/she can set
it aside. We have no authority
to take a General Use EA and dictate that a developer do anything
additional as we can do under
Conditional Use zoning. We had a requirement that cost $2-$5 K,
delayed the approval process and
all we could do with it was simply review it for completeness
…and that’s it. This requirement
was added to our zoning ordinance in 2008 and no one has yet
met the 2-acre threshold.
Sally motioned and I seconded to
keep the ERB review and were out voted 3-2. It will still go to a
Remove Requirement for LEED
certification for future Chatham
board majority policy was to require LEED Silver Certification as minimum
all public buildings over 20,000 square feet. The new Board majority decided we
should have some
flexibility in this requirement; i.e., consider each new building on it’s own
to agree that LEED Silver standards –
design and equipment - are really the basic
building that one
builds in these times. We all want our buildings to be energy efficient, but
costing? A plaque/certificate doesn’t add energy efficiency. No one is
that we stop
building to LEED Silver standards, but looking at each new building as it comes
seem like a bad idea. Does it need a Certification Plaque?…and what price will
have to pay for
that? We don’t know! Is it like the Hotel/Restaurant 5-Star Certification
I’m told those
stars cost at least a $100K per star! It lends prestige and provides bragging
you can build the
same facility with LEED design elements, install the same equipment and provide
the same service
for a whole lot less…without the 5-Star Certification.
looking at each project and determining the added cost of certification is a
wise direction to
take. Is it worth
it? Sometimes maybe, but certainly not
with the new jail!
Remove requirement for LEED certification for new
Associates, Architects/Planners, recommended NOT to proceed with LEED
this project. The potential payback period would be beyond a reasonable payback
time to recommend
LEED as a method to save cost.
LEED Design Cost
– additional construction cost….$703,000
Certification Review Fee………………………...$5,400
Total $769,400 ( vs. 5-Star =
$153,880 per star)
Silver payback over approximately 20 years….$375,000 ( 20 yrs. Still $75,000 per star)
Architect will include energy saving approaches of LEED, local materials,
energy efficient plumbing fixtures, mechanical and electrical systems and low
materials. Results in 11.5% energy savings in electrical and water usage.
Many of the
items required for LEED Silver Certification yield substantial points, but do
payback on the investment. This is particularly true for jail projects where
many of the
LEED items apply
more to office and public areas than to secure jail areas.
We will also
meet the recommendations of the GBASE by following the 2012 State Energy
construction of northeastern high school to 2016, Capital Improvement Plan.
There was much
discussion with Superintendent Logan and his staff concerning the urgency for
new NE High
School. Numbers at this time indicate that we will not need it before 2016.. a
of 1 year. We
kept it on the CIP and will review it every year…allowing 3 years to accomplish
will dictate the project. Remember, we are in recession and our revenue flow
We cannot afford to be building anything early. We also must remember that we
need $1.5M in
operating cost for the high school above the $45-$50M in construction cost.
A new NE
Elementary School is actually a more pressing issue and we are discussing that
will likely need
it in the next 24-36 months. Construction periods for both will probably
We have to see
where we are revenue-wise, before we prematurely start raising any taxes.
Allocate zero funds in 2011-12 Budget for projected
increases in school enrollment.
I think we
should have approved most of the $500K requested, but it was obvious to me that
going to happen. I
did make a motion to reinstate funding in the amount of $110,096 for two
positions at Sage Academy
to be treated as a special, one-time appropriation, and to provide contingency
funds, if needed,
for teacher’s assistant positions that are eliminated because of state budget
what the Board of
Education anticipated in it’s budget request. Approved 4-1
Approve 2011-12 “austerity” budget that cuts library
hours, eliminates bookmobile, eliminates meal programs for seniors, cuts
environmental staff, transportation and other services.
were directed to identify 5% in cuts that would be least detrimental to their
Departments and these
items were determined independently before the budget adoption.
statement does not reflect my actual votes on individual budget items!
I voted against
the Budget Adoption in the Budget Session. The out-of-the blue motion to
was quite a
surprise. I think the BOC should have gone through the normal process, which is
we find out how
each member feels about each budget item and we receive an update from
There is more to preparing a budget than just the funding aspect. I certainly didn’t agree with
individual items in the budget, but we still have the Budget Amendment Process
bring any budget item back to the table for further discussion.
Later, I did
vote for the Budget Ordinance approval out of
respect to the Manager and his staff who
did an excellent
job of preparing and presenting the budget as the new Board Majority had
was over and I saw no need to insult the work of the Manager and his Staff.
I wouldn’t go
to a buffet dinner, eat only what struck my fancy and then condemn the Chef
and his Staff
for preparing a lousy buffet either. I’m just nice that way!
because they were part of the Library Director’s proposed cuts. However, the
amendment, adding $25K to the budget to extend library hours at Chatham
Libraries. Approved 5-0
That was clearly going to occur and
was part of the Librarian’s proposal.
Sally and I voted not to eliminate the bookmobile and were out voted.
Sally and I requested an
amendment to reinstatement of $25K for operating the bookmobile on a
Defeated 3-2 , The Book Mobile will be turned
over to the BOE for summer distribution to students.
Eliminates meal program for Seniors:
This was another part of the majority
Cost Containment 5% reductions and was submitted by the
Council on Aging Director. However, she would not have submitted this
cut, if not required.
By not using our normal budget process, this received little discussion.
I voted against!
Conservation Manager (Vacant) position which was the reallocated Assist.
position had been created to help with the Land Use Plan and changes to the
The LUP was put on hold for further discussion as explained on page 2, the
was vacant and
fell to the Cost Containment approach. We certainly don’t need this position,
forward with the LUP.
Chatham contribution to
Chapel Hill Pittsboro Express. It does take time to develop this type of
and we even discussed stepping up our Chatham Transit. Fortunately for our
and the fact that parking is at a premium in Chapel Hill
CH Transit has continued
without our financial participation. I voted to continue.
Select “closed” Chatham
County landfill as site
for new county jail.
The Site Selection Committee for
the jail included the Sheriff’s Office, Manager’s Office,
Public Works and the Project Manager. 3
sites were considered with the following criteria:
schedule and potential obstacles to developing.
to develop the site, given land needs, infrastructure, and price escalation
resulting in delays.
impact on security of the public, jail staff and inmates.
ability to expand the jail on the site in the future.
Site 1. Adjacent to the Justice Center (JC): 1 story or 2 story ?
JC will be completed before the
Jail would start. It would put us over the budget of $12, 700,360.
It would require a retaining wall
400 feet long and 27 feet tall, with the base at 6 feet from the flood zone of
Robeson Creek that could withstand the thrust of the fill earth and the load of
the jail’s southern exterior wall. Most expensive site for construction. Would
require 2 stories. Would require additional resources/manpower to maintain
internal security. 8 mos. to 1 year longer to build. Rezoning, water and
sewerage approval by PBO. Least buffer and less parking.
Site 2. Generic In-town Site:
away from JC for comparison)
4-5 months longer to build than adjacent
to landfill. Same requirements from PBO. Less buffer area.
More expense in land acquisition.
Questionable parking/separation for visitors and staff.
Note: In addition to our
discussions, I have a 6-08-’11 email to the CCDP Executive Committee
(on behalf of Randolph Voller) and a
6-10-’11 CCDP E-Letter with the same message that the BOC
“has wasted a lot of time and energy
eliminating” …followed by a list of items, and
“advocating for a new jail in downtown
3 Adjacent to County Landfill:
owns. Adequate acreage for 1 story and future expansion. Less impact on
properties. Least expensive site for
construction. Can be developed under a reliable, best use of
capital cost with prime potential for
expansion. PBO has since approved sewage capacity. Approval
process less demanding and can be
permitted by Chatham
Jail adjacent to County Landfill
Eliminate daytime BOC meeting (seniors could attend) in
favor of night meetings only.
At my age, I am
very aware of the perils of driving at night, but this was going to happen with
without my vote.
However, I was successful (5-0) in getting the BOC to add a Public Input
Session to the
sessions to insure seniors had a chance to give us their input. We now have 4
Input Sessions vice
2. We very rarely, if ever, took action on high interest agenda items during
previous 7 years
of BOC Regular afternoon meetings…and it
did sometimes holdup the application
I hope this review
provides you a better understanding of my votes on these major issues.