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April 03, 2009

Guiding Principles for Legislative Process
Last week, Board members were provided information about proposed state legislation that Department of Social Services Director Mary Wilson considered favorable to Mecklenburg County. The communication to the Board prompted some questions about how County staff deals with proposed legislation when there is not sufficient time to obtain formal direction from the Board. As a follow up to the email response provided by General Manager John McGillicuddy on these questions, below is additional information on the general approach taken by staff in such instances.
As mentioned in the previous email, County staff recognizes that the Board is the authority on formal positions regarding legislation. Each year the Board approves a state and federal legislative agenda to articulate its priority goals and to give staff direction for advocating for those goals. However, many other issues arise during the legislative sessions that necessitate a response from the County. Given the fast moving nature of the legislative process and the volume of issues before lawmakers, it is not always possible to consult the Board in advance. In those instances, staff uses the following guiding principles to make decisions:

  • The County staff may advocate for items that provide greater flexibility, enhanced funding or resources, and/or improved efficiency in the way we do business.
  • The County staff will not take a position, without Board direction, when the item does not align with existing policy or would result in a material budget/funding increase.
  • County staff will provide updates on legislative items to the Board in a timely manner to keep members abreast of issues affecting the county.

If the Board would like to establish different direction on the use of these guiding principles, please contact Assistant to the County Manager Deborah Goldberg at 704-336-2611.

County Assembly Day April 29 in Raleigh
The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) will hold its annual County Assembly Day on Wednesday, April 29 in downtown Raleigh. The 2009 General Assembly will be in session, and the Legislature is expected to debate many issues of critical importance to counties, including transportation, annexation, environmental issues, property tax relief and mental health reform, among others.
NCACC legislative staff will provide an update on these issues and the status of the Association's legislative goals. The festivities end with a reception in honor of members of the General Assembly at the N.C. Museum of History. Board members are welcome and encouraged to attend. The deadline for registration is April 22. Please contact Deborah Goldberg if you are interested in attending or would like additional information.
Manager's Office Personnel Changes
On Wednesday, April 8, Assistant to the County Manager Rebecca Herbert will transition to a new opportunity as the Business Manager for the County's Real Estate Services Department. Rebecca has been with the County Manager's Office since May 2001. Among her primary responsibilities were supporting General Manager John McGillicuddy with the Effective & Efficient Government Focus Area and special projects such as the School Building Solutions Committee.
For the immediate future, Assistant to the County Manager Timmothy Tibbs will assume many of her duties, including staffing the Board's Effective & Efficient Government Committee.

Update on Reductions in Force
On February 25, 2009, Sheriff Chipp Bailey announced the closing of the Gatling Juvenile Detention Center. This decision impacted 26 Sheriff's Office employees serving at that location. Initially, these employees were slated to be transferred into detention officer positions within the Sheriff's Office. However, we have learned that not all of these employees may be able meet the state certification standards for detention officer positions. Some also have expressed reluctance in meeting the requirements of the jobs, including the work schedule.
Therefore, to provide these employees with the most options during this change, I have approved a reduction-in-force plan for the Gatling closing. This plan provides each of these employees with additional employment rights and benefits that would not have been available to them under a typical job transfer. The Sheriff still plans to offer detention officer positions to those employees who are interested in serving in that capacity and who meet certification standards.
I have also approved a reduction-in-force plan for a portion of Area Mental Health. This will result in the elimination of one filled Health Aide position in the Substance Abuse Service Center (SASC) and four filled Social Service Assistant positions in the Child and Adolescent Community Support (CACS) area.
The reduction in the SASC is due to a decline in demand for this service. This reduction will not impact the current level of detoxification service provided by the County.
The reduction CACS is due to changed in Medicaid reimbursements. In January 2009, Medicaid reimbursement rates were altered so that the County receives full reimbursement only for degreed paraprofessionals in the Child and Adolescent support area. Therefore, AMH is eliminating the four positions that cannot receive the full reimbursement and will shift the caseload to the remaining positions. The department believes the caseload is manageable with the remaining staff and does not anticipate an impact on the consumers.

- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager


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