Board of Health, Social Services, Mental Health
On March 14, March 21, April 25 and May 23, the Board of County Commissioners will have the opportunity to address various public and mental health issues. This has raised the question of when, or if, it is appropriate to convene the Board as the "Board of Health" or the "Board of Mental Health." County Attorney Marvin Bethune's research, summarized below, indicates that convening such meetings is not necessary.
In 1973 the State legislature adopted G.S. 153A-77 to authorize boards of commissioners in counties with populations of more than 325,000 to adopt resolutions that allow the boards of county commissioners in those counties (which at the time of adoption was only Mecklenburg) to assume the responsibilities of the Boards of Health, Mental Health and Social Services. Mecklenburg County subsequently adopted such resolutions, and the Board has assumed the powers and duties possessed by those boards in other counties.
Because the state legislation and subsequent resolutions are worded to give the Mecklenburg County Board the ability to seek and hold those powers, rather than make the Board the Boards of Health, Mental Health, and Social Services, it is not necessary for the Board of County Commissioners to convene as the "Board of Health," "Board of Mental Health," or "Board of Social Services." In fact, at anytime when the Board meets to discuss and made decisions that would normally be made by those types of entities, it is acting as a Board of County Commissioners with the authority to make decisions of the type normally made by a Board of Health, Board of Mental Health, or Board of Social Services.
It is also of note that one of the more significant ways those additional powers manifest themselves is that the Board of County Commissioners, using the authority vested in it by G.S. 153A-77, can adopt health regulations effective throughout the entire County. However, while exercising the powers of a board of county commissioners, the Board only has the authority to adopt ordinances for the unincorporated areas of the County.
To help the Board and the public understand when an action is being requested under the statutory authority normally exercised by one of the aforementioned boards, the Board's agenda items will be identified as such.
2006 Federal Legislative Agenda
On March 15, the Board's vice chairman, Wilhelmenia Rembert, Commissioner Jim Puckett, County staff, and our Washington legislative representatives will meet with our Congressional delegation in Washington to discuss the County's needs for the coming year.
Our requests are for a $3 million appropriation for training equipment for Medic, a $1 million appropriation to add approximately 80 shelter beds for victims of domestic violence, a $200,000 appropriation to improve the water quality of the County's streams, and delegation of authority from FEMA to the County to maintain floodplain maps.
Last year the County's focus was on our Little Sugar Creek Greenway project, which received federal appropriations of more than $5 million, thanks to the hard work of our delegation.
Planning Conference Follow Up
In this edition of the Board Bulletin, we are providing information related to the Spirit Square contract and a copy of the Financing the Future of North Carolina white paper, which was referenced at the Strategic Planning Conference. It is sent as a separate attachment accompanying the Board Bulletin for this week.
Spirit Square is purple in the choice matrix (program choice, no funding choice) because once the County chose to enter into the contract, it became an item that we were obligated to fund. This is not a mandatory service in that there is no federal, state or other legal mandate requiring the County to provide this service.
The contract regarding Spirit Square began in 1997, when the City, County, and the North Carolina Performing Arts Center at Charlotte Foundation (PAC) negotiated the lease of the Spirit Square facility. The lease expires on June 30, 2007. Under the lease, PAC was to spend $450,000 to renovate the facility, which it did. The City continued to be responsible for building maintenance and repairs. The County agreed to subsidize Spirit Square by giving the PAC an annual appropriation beginning in FY98 of $1.2 million to be increased annually by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Currently, the County is paying $1.44 million for this contract. For FY07, this amount will be adjusted 1.54 percent for CIP to $1.46 million. This fulfills our obligations for this contract. However, several questions remain.
The first question is how the Spirit Square facility will be maintained once the contract expires. County staff is discussing this with City of Charlotte staff to determine what role the City is considering. In addition, we are examining if the development of a new cultural arts center by Wachovia has any implications for how the Spirit Square facility is managed. Once we have completed this research, we will bring the matter before the Board to consider what, if any, role the County should have in ongoing facility maintenance of Spirit Square.
Mark Your Calendar
Tuesday, March 14, 2006:
- Budget/Public Policy Workshop, 3 p.m., Room 267
- Public Reception for the School Building Solutions Committee, 6-8 p.m., Lobby of CMGC
Tuesday, March 21, 2006:
- Economic Development Committee, 1:30-3 p.m., 11th Floor Large Conference Room
- Dinner Meeting, 5 p.m., CH-14
- Regular Meeting, 6 p.m., Meeting Chamber
--Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager