County to address membership resolution

Nov. 04, 2013 @ 10:21 AM

A state statute is presenting problems with regards to membership to a newly-created area board.

Upon the official completion of the merger between Western Highlands Network (WHN) and Smoky Mountain Center (SMC), a new board comprised of 21 members will oversee the operations of Smoky Mountain Center.

The problem is that the new SMC coverage area consists of 23 counties.

North Carolina General Statute 122C-118.1 states "an area board shall have no fewer than 11 and no more than 21 voting members."

This presents a situation for the 15 new counties represented by Smoky Mountain Center.

By only allowing 21 members on the board, there is the possibility that some counties will not have representation on the board unless the General Assembly reverses the current law.

That is what the Rutherford County Commission will consider during its regular November meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.

Commissioners will consider a draft resolution requesting the General Assembly amend the new law, removing the 21-member limitation.

A meeting in October of the Smoky Mountain Center executive committee/transition team discussed the prospect of seating the 23 recommended members to the board. However, in an email from Charles Vines, Mitchell County manager and chairman for Western Highlands, he stated there were potential consequences to having 23 members on the board.

"… since this is currently the law we must abide by it or if the LMC or MCO does not comply with the composition then the Secretary of DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) has the authority to appoint the board," Vines said. "It is apparent that none of the WHN/SMC counties does not like the current composition of the board by the legislators because they are concerned about accountable(ity).

"There was some very good discussion but mostly the displeasure with the State because every county did not have representation on the board."

Of the 21 members regulated by the state, 13 are family or provider representatives and the remaining eight are proposed to be representatives of the 23 counties within the new Smoky Mountain Center coverage area.

In a memo from Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen to county commissioners he said those eight will be comprised of four county managers from the former WHN coverage area and four from the SMC area. Classen — a member of the WHN board — is one of the four being placed on the new governance board.

For now, a 21-member board will oversee the new SMC region.

In other business, commissioners:

• will hold a public hearing for a Community Transportation Program grant;

• will discuss Commissioner Bo Richard's Airport Authority Board membership;

• will consider a Grassroots 2013-2-14 grant award;

• will hear an update on the Biggerstaff Hanging Tree property;

• will consider appointments to the Mental Health Consolidation Entity Board;

• will discuss Grey Rock project 7 and parts of projects 8 and 9 paving bids.