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Avery Commissioners Receive Positive County Audit Report During Their November 4th Meeting

By Tim Gardner

     During the regular monthly meeting of the Avery Commissioners on November 4, it was revealed that the county has received a highly-positive audit for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

     All Commissioners–Martha Hicks (Chairperson); Blake Vance (Vice-Chairman); Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr.; Tim Phillips; and Dennis Aldridge were present. Other leading county officials attending included: County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr.; Finance Officer Tim Greene; Assistant County Manager and Clerk to the Board Cindy Turbyfill; and County Attorney Michaelle Poore.

     Sharon Gillespie of the Young, Miller & Gillespie Public Accountants Company in Spruce Pine addressed the commissioners about the past fiscal year’s county audit report that the accounting firm conducted. Gillespie said the county received excellent ratings in its audit, running from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.

     According to Barrier, Jr., the county has a Total Governmental Fund Balance of $23,864,197.00. He noted that not all that money is available as pre-paid assets and restricted funds are taken from that amount. He said the total amount available to the county in the General Fund’s Unrestricted Fund Balance is $9,782,526.00.

     The audit also revealed that there are no missing county funds.

     The commissioners expressed thanks to Gillespie and the accounting firm for her and the company’s efforts in completing the audit and were pleased with its findings.

     “It’s an excellent auditing report,” Barrier, Jr. said. “To keep all parts of the county’s operations moving in the same direction takes a lot of hard work from many people. Our audit was exemplary for the past fiscal year and all our county’s citizens can take great pride in that.”

     Copies of the complete audit for 2018-2019 and all fiscal years dating back to 2006-2007 are available online for anyone who would like to review them at: http://www.averycountync.gov/departments/Audit.php

     As required by North Carolina General Statutes Paragraph 159-34, the Board of County Commissioners shall select a certified public accountant or an accountant certified by the Local Government Commission as qualified to audit local government accounts. Avery County shall have its accounts audited annually. The audit will also include a compliance examination in accordance with applicable Federal and State rules, regulations and guidelines as required under the Single Audit Act of 1984 (Public Law 98-502) and the State Single Audit Implementation Act, as contained in G.S. 159-34. The audit shall be conducted as soon as possible after the close of the fiscal year, and the auditor shall report directly to the governing board.

     The Young, Miller and Gillespie Accounting Firm has conducted the audit for Avery County the past several years.

     In additional business, the commissioners:

*Unanimously (5-0) approved $55,300.00 in additional funds in order to construct and upgrade the Sugar Mountain Waste Collection Site.

*Unanimously approved increasing pay for the Sheriff’s Department Reserve Officers on a sliding scale from $10.00 to $20.00 per hour.

*Avery Tax Administrator Bruce Daniels informed the commissioners that the county had collected $1,689,829.19 in taxes for the month of October 2019.

*Unanimously appointed Sam Calvert and Doug Jennings to the Avery County Airport Authority.

*Recognized the Economic Development Commission members for their dedication and exemplary service to the county: Ken Walter; Melynda Pepple; Susan Siirila; Eric Berg; Jesse Pope; Dave Smith; Clayton Harpold; Kate Gavenus; and David Pollard.

*Received confirmation from the Board of Directors of Avery-Mitchell Yancey (AMY) Wellness Foundation that it has authorized a grant to Mitchell County Public Transportation Authority, as fiscal agent for Avery, Mitchell & Yancey County Public Transportation Authorities in the amount of $202,110.

*Got another grant confirmation, this one from the USA Archery through a partnership with the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association (NCRPA) to support the expansion of target archery programming in parks and recreation departments statewide through the Explore Archery grant program. In an effort to grow archery at the community level, USA Archery helped secure grant donations of $80,000 from the Archery Trade Association and Easton Foundations. Avery County’s Parks &Recreation Department received part of those grant monies.

     The Explore Archery grant is intended to help local parks and recreation departments to start Explore Archery programs. Explore Archery is considered an easy way to get started in archery. This short-term program is perfect whether participants are new to the sport of archery or a beginner archer looking for an introductory program. Explore Archery teaches important skills like range safety and proper shooting form and includes exciting games and the chance to earn achievement awards. In addition, grant recipients will be provided information on additional grant opportunities and next level archery programs such as USA Archery’s Junior Olympic Archery Development Program, Explore Bowfishing and Explore Bowhunting Programs.

     Additionally, the commissioners unanimously adopted two ordinances . They are, respectively, for changes to the Avery County Criminal History Check Ordinance, and the Keep The Lights On Afterschool program. These resolutions are as follows:

WHEREAS, pursuant to North Carolina General Statute (NCGS) §160A-164.2 and NCGS §153A-45, a County may require prospective employees to submit to a criminal history record check of the State and National Repositories of Criminal Histories conducted by the Department of Justice in accordance with NCGS §143B-945; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to NCGS §160A-164.2 the County may consider the results of a criminal history record check in its hiring decision; and

WHEREAS, the County previously adopted a Criminal History Check Ordinance and desires to Amend and Restate the same; and

WHEREAS, this Ordinance is to provide a policy and set procedures for conducting fingerprinting and criminal history checks through SBIDCI on final applicants for employment with Avery County.

NOW, THEREFORE, be it Ordained that:

Section 1. In order to protect the citizens of the County and their properties, the procedures herein are established to provide for fingerprinting and criminal history checks on all prospective employees for regular full and part-time positions in the County government. Subject to Subparagraph (C) of this Section, employment with the County may be denied for those persons convicted of any crime against a person, or crimes against property where intent is an element, or any drug or gambling related offense or certain motor vehicle offenses.

  1. The Avery County Manager, or designee, may conduct an investigation of any final candidate for a permanent full-time or part-time position with the Avery County government and it shall be a precondition of employment that an applicant for such a position shall, upon request, provide fingerprints and all other necessary personal identification including a birth certificate, social security number and driver’s license, if available, so that the County Manager, or designee, may cause a thorough search to be made t             o local and state criminal records to determine if the applicant has a history of criminal convictions or the crimes enumerated above by use of the Division of Criminal Information Network (DCI).
  2. The Avery County Sheriff’s Office or other entity so designated by the County Manager shall provide the findings from the use of the DCI to the Avery County Manager, or designee, provided that all necessary agreements with the State Bureau Division of Criminal Information have been executed.
  3. An evaluation of any crime for purposes of the offense and the time frame of the offense as it relates to the essential job functions or the position applied.
  4. Prior to denial or termination of employment based upon Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) received, the Avery County Sheriff’s Office or other entity designated by the County Manager, shall verify the existence of a record by either obtaining a certified public record or by submitting a fingerprint card of the individual to the criminal information and identification section for verification that the CHRI record belongs to the individual.

Section 2. If this Ordinance or the application thereunto any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the Ordinance which can be given separate effect and to that end the provisions of this Ordinance are declared to be severable.

Section 3. Any Ordinance, or any part of an Ordinance, in conflict with this Ordinance, to the extent of such conflict, is hereby repealed.

Section 4. This Ordinance is adopted in the interest of public health, safety, and general welfare of the inhabitants of Avery County, North Carolina, and shall be in full force and effect from and after its adoption.

Section 5. This ordinance shall take effect and be in force from and after the date of its adoption.

-Keeping the Lights On After School-

WHEREAS, the citizens of Avery County stand firmly committed to quality afterschool programs and

opportunities because they:

Provide safe, challenging, and engaging learning experiences that help children develop social, emotional, physical and academic skills.

Support working families by ensuring their children are safe and productive after the regular school day ends.

Build stronger communities by involving students, parents, business leaders and adult volunteers in the lives of young people, thereby promoting positive relationships among youth, families and adults.

Engage families, schools and community partners in advancing the welfare of our children.

WHEREAS, WAMY Community Action, Inc., Avery County Schools, Avery County and The Williams YMCA have provided significant leadership in the area of community involvement in the education and well­being of our youth, grounded in the principle that quality afterschool programs are key to helping our children become successful adults.

WHEREAS, Lights On After School, the national celebration of afterschool programs held this year on November 8, promotes the importance of quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, families and communities

WHEREAS, more than 28 million children in the U.S. have parents who work outside the home, and 19.4

million children have no place to go after school.

WHEREAS, many afterschool programs across the country are facing funding shortfalls so severe that they are being forced to close their doors and turn off their lights.

WHEREAS, the County of A very is committed to investing in the health and safety of all young people by providing expanded learning opportunities that will help close the achievement gap and prepare young people to compete in the global economy.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we do hereby proclaim November 8, as “Lights On After School Day“; AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the commissioners enthusiastically endorse Lights On After School and promote the engagement in innovative afterschool programs and activities that ensure the lights stay on and the doors stay open for all children after school.

ADOPTED this 4th day of November 2019.

     The commissioners also had a Closed (Executive) Session, but took no further action after returning to Regular Session.

     The next regular monthly meeting of the commissioners will be Monday, December 2, in their Board Room on the second floor of the County Administration Building, located at 175 Pineola Street in Newland.