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March 14, 2008
 
NCACC Meetings on Legislative Issues
 
The N.C. Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) will be holding six district meetings across the state in April. At these meetings, NCACC will update county officials on issues of interest for the state's legislative short session beginning in May. Some of these issues include property tax reform, transportation funding, lottery disbursements, storm water rules and water supplies.
 
The meeting closest to Mecklenburg County will be held April 3 in Catawba County, beginning at 10 a.m. and concluding with lunch that commences at 12:30 p.m. Registration is required.
 
Board members who would like to attend this district meeting or are interested in more information should contact Deborah Long Goldberg at Deborah.Goldberg@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov, or 336-2611. Also register online at the NCACC website www.ncacc.org/districtdates.html. A list of the other five district meeting locations and dates can be viewed at this site as well.
 

Status of Veterans Initiative Update
 
In April 2007, the Board received the results of the Status of Veterans Initiative (SOVI), which included recommendations from an independent steering committee. The SOVI steering committee identified nine gaps in service to veterans in Mecklenburg County and recommended corresponding strategies to help address those service gaps.
 
The following list provides an update on the progress of the Veterans Service Office (VSO), a division of the Community Support Services Department (CSS), to close those service gaps.
  • Staffing – the VSO hired four veteran service specialists to help with increased volume of clients served and claims processed.
  • Technology – the VSO installed a new internal database that improved office check-in of clients and tracking of performance data.
  • Transportation – the VSO is working with a group led by CATS to plan for a better-coordinated transportation system to improve services for veterans with disabilities, senior citizens, and people with lower incomes.
  • Training – VSO staff received training on mental health conditions and symptoms, personality type, customer service, and strategic planning on balanced scorecard measures.
  • Communications – the VSO produced brochures and purchased promotional items to promote awareness and veteran benefits.
  • Outreach – the VSO formed a new outreach division, which co-sponsored a veteran education and information expo hosted by CPCC and attended by 105 people.
  • Partnerships – the VSO joined the Charlotte Chamber and increased collaborative efforts with DSS, Area Mental Health, Park and Recreation, CPCC, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
  • Office Accessibility – the VSO has requested office space in the new VA Outpatient Clinic in Charlotte set to open in April 2008, and is seeking space in other public facilities such as the Employment Security Commission Office.
  • Internal Workflow – the VSO is currently working to re-engineer and automate internal workflow processes to be more customer focused.
 
For additional information, contact CSS Division Director of VSO Robert “Bob’’ Weeks at Robert.Weeks@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov or 704-336-3135.
 

EPA Strengthens Smog Standards
 
On Wednesday, March 12, 2008, EPA met its requirements under the Clean Air Act by signing the most stringent 8-hour standard ever for ozone, revising the standards for the first time in more than a decade. The agency based the changes on the most recent scientific evidence about the effects of ozone, the primary component of smog. In Mecklenburg County, NOx emission is the most critical factor contributing to ozone formation.
 
The new primary 8-hour standard is 0.075 parts per million (ppm). The previous primary standard was set in 1997 at 0.08 ppm. An area will meet the revised standards if the three-year average of the annual fourth-highest daily maximum 8-hour average at every ozone monitor is less than or equal to the level of 0.075 ppm.
 
The following schedule will apply to implementing the revised ozone standards:
  • March 2009 - States must make recommendations to EPA by then for areas to be designated attainment, non-attainment and unclassifiable.
  • March 2010 - EPA will issue final designations of attainment and non-attainment areas.
  • March 2013 - States must submit State Implementation Plans outlining how they will reduce pollution to meet the standards.
  • 2013 – 2030 - States will be required to meet the standards by deadlines that may vary based on the severity of the problem in the area.
 
If the 0.075 ppm standard is applied to existing data for 2007, Mecklenburg County would now be 24% over the standard instead of 10% and we would have had 34 days over the standard instead of 19.
 
The new tougher standard will make it a greater challenge to achieve ozone attainment. Staff will continue to work both with the state on a regional level and locally to identify, recommend and implement feasible ways to reduce NOx emissions.
 
For more details on the revised standards, visit: http://www.epa.gov/groundlevelozone/actions.html.
 
- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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