Agenda — October 5, 2005
9:30 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room
I. Call to Order
II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press
III. Opening Remarks
IV. Special Presentations:
• Dwayne Pinkney on Affordable Housing
• Shelly Green on Employee Appreciation Week
V. Human Resources Update
• Laurie Charest, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
VI. Chair’s Report, Executive Committee (Tommy Griffin) & Committee Reports
• Nominating: Patty Prentice
–> Forum Election Results
–> Call for Officer Nominations
•Personnel Issues: David Brannigan
• University Assignments: Tom Arnel
• Career Development: Leon Hamlett
• Communications: Brian White
–> Forum Newsletter
• Community Affairs, Recognition and Awards: Debra Galvin
• Employee Presentations: Ernie Patterson
VII. Minutes delayed
VIII. Old Business
IX. New Business
X. Stretch Time
XI. “Around the Room”/Employee Presentations
XIII. Task Force/University Committee Reports
October 5, 2005 minutes
Chair Tommy Griffin welcomed guests, Human Resources officials and members of the press, calling the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. Shelley Green spoke about the activities for the upcoming Employee Appreciation week, to take place the week of October 12. Activities will include nutrition and wellness events, such as office yoga on Monday, ombudsoffice meeting times on Tuesday, Bullshead books discounts on Wednesday, University Day, and a booth fair of organizations on Thursday. Chuck Brink asked about the promotion of the week to Facilities Services shops and Green said that representatives had met with different shops over the past few weeks. Marshall Dietz suggested that Green send out a pdf file of the Appreciation week posters so that Employees could post them in their departments. Tom Arnel added that Forum members interested in marching in the University Day processional should sign up with the Forum Office.
The Chair introduced Dwayne Pinkney to speak on University plans to build affordable housing at the Winmore tract in Carrboro. He noted that private plans to develop the tract had fallen through but the University has jumped in with two feet to preserve the idea.
Pinkney said that the Carolina Commons project would develop 63 acres for faculty and staff housing in an area north of Umstead Road. Recently, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen had revised stream buffers to remove some of the land available for construction.
Pinkney said that the University’s object is to provide below market housing for its workers by accommodating a range of incomes. The University plans to break even on the development by its subsidy of the land itself for the project. Typically, a developer will extract a sales price and a builder will build on the land with each extracting a mark-up. Since the University owns the Carolina Commons land, it will be able to avoid charging a portion of these costs to employees.
The University will offer faculty and staff buyers a 20% discount on the typical cost of a comparable Chapel Hill home. Mixed single-family detached homes on fifty-foot fronts will cost $280,000 as opposed to $350,000; similar homes on thirty-two foot fronts will cost $220,000 instead of $275,000. Townhomes contained two to three bedrooms will cost $160,000 down from $200,000 and one to two bedroom condominiums will be priced at cost, approximately $80-90,000.
Jill Hartman commented that most average Employees will not be able to afford these prices. Pinkney heard this concern but said that the University could not make these prices any more affordable without putting its own subsidies into the project. Tom Arnel asked how much appreciation in value the homes would recognize. Pinkney said that the University intends to keep the homes below market value in perpetuity, pegged to either the consumer price index or to 80% of the appraised market value of comparable Chapel Hill homes. Bradley Bone confirmed that buyers could only sell on to other University employees.
Katherine Graves asked if the University had explored other ways to make the homes less expensive. Pinkney said that he would seek further alternatives to lower the price of the homes. Keith Fogleman asked how long the University would let the homes sit empty before selling them on the open market. Pinkney said that the University would build on a schedule to allow it to accommodate market changes. Currently, the Chapel Hill housing market would readily absorb these new homes even given the limitation of selling only to University employees.
Brenda Denzler asked if Pinkney had commissioned a survey of faculty and staff preferences for this project, particularly with regard to perceptions of affordable housing. She asked if Pinkney could share this data with her and the Forum. Ernie Patterson suggested that the University subsidize lower-income purchasers. Pinkney said that the upper-end homes were assessed more costs that are not passed onto the condominium units. Patterson thought that the project should implement a more formal concept of subsidies, perhaps based on charging University Employees a 25% maximum of their income for housing.
Marshall Dietz said that the University could use its endowment to obtain better interest rates on mortgages in order to demand lower down payments of employee purchasers. He also suggested that the homes be built to high levels of energy efficiency. He asked if the University would sell the homes on a land-lease basis to keep real estate taxes low. Pinkney said that the University would convey the property through a ground lease or through a fee simple and currently preferred the latter option. Dietz said that buyers often do not want to own the land past the foundation of their home, saying that the relevant issue is now obtaining stable and affordable housing rather than realizing appreciation gains.
Patterson asked how the Forum could help Pinkney in his work. Pinkney said that he appreciated the opportunity to get feedback on the project in a systematic way as he worked through the configuration and programmatic aspects. The Chair suggested that the University peg monthly payments to income and add a number of apartments as were included in the Winmore project. He also suggested that any rent in these apartments also be pegged for retiree incomes. Pinkney noted that if the University makes these additions, its break-even point rises and so the price of units must increase. He appreciated the chance to work on building a consensus about the Carolina Commons project. The Chair suggested that delegates and employees phone or email Pinkney with suggestions.
Eszter Karvazy asked if the project would contain any public buildings or land. Pinkney said that there had been some discussion of open space use. Brink asked about provisions for a community center, pool or meeting room space. Jackie Kylander thought that the project should have space for a playground. Brannigan pointed to a similar proposal at North Carolina State University that will follow the walkable community model, with shops and public transit nearby. Pinkney recalled this model, noting its neo-urban storage of cars behind buildings.
The Chair asked when the University might begin work on the project. Pinkney said that many variables will influence start times but thought that construction would not begin until well into 2006. Brink suggested that the Forum make the Carolina Commons project a community meeting topic. Brannigan suggested that the University administration sponsor this community meeting to leave the Forum other opportunities to do community meetings on other topics.
Laurie Mesibov of the University Ombudsoffice said she would be available to meet with Employees Tuesday at the Student Union. She announced the hiring of Victoria Dowd as the office’s executive assistant.
The Chair had heard a lot of good information concerning Carolina North at the recent Board of Trustees meeting, as well as information about the Carolina Commons project. The Board heard about prospects for a $6 million cut in University finances that would be only partially offset by enrollment increase money. The University will have to eliminate vacant positions and possibly some current positions to accommodate the cut.
The tuition task force has been charged to come up with a plan to help faculty and graduate students. The student fees committee will look at the inflation rate and its effect on student fee activities.
The Chancellor has asked that the Chair speak two minutes at the University Day festivities October 12.
The Provost/Vice Chancellor meeting held last month saw a discussion of vanpooling, gas prices and a possible four day work week for some departments. The Chair said that Bradley Bone’s concerns about vanpool subsidies had been forwarded to the Advisory Committee on Transportation.
Matt Banks said the list of elected delegates would be posted on the Forum website later that afternoon. Nominations for Forum officer candidates will take place in November.
Gloria Farrar confirmed that the Orientation for new delegates will take place October 27 in the north box of Kenan Stadium. She had joined with Tom Arnel, Katherine Graves, Lisa Inman and Matt Banks to plan the orientation. The committee will host the all-day retreat Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at the Friday Center. Brian White asked if the committee would ask current committee chairs to speak January 11, and Farrar expected that they would.
David Brannigan, chair of the Personnel Issues committee, said that group had posted pdf files about the OS1 team cleaning process on the Forum website. He said that the committee planned to seek endorsements of the Forum’s living wage resolution from various constituencies and departments across campus.
Tom Arnel, chair of the University Assignments committee, said that group was wrapping up its work and would seek a new chair for next year. The committee was also seeking volunteers to serve at the Forum booth at Appreciation Day October 14.
Brian White, chair of the Communications committee, said that group would begin work on the October InTouch soon. He said that the committee had been active posting orientation materials on the Forum website. White praised Brannigan’s opinion piece in the most recent edition of InTouch.
Debra Galvin, chair of the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee, said that the group had distributed its Shining Heels awards for the year. She thanked the University Gazette for running coverage of the awards and said that the annual Prize Patrol should begin its activities in October. Chuck Brink volunteered to help with that task.
Ernie Patterson, chair of the Employee Presentations committee, said that the plans for the upcoming community meeting are still ongoing. He planned to ask the Chancellor and the Advisory Committee on Transportation to make the gas savings plan for campus a formal part of University operations, perhaps extending to include telecommuting and shifting work schedules.
It was noted that the Forum had received a question concerning child care subsidy limits being raised to $42,000 a year per household. Employees had wanted this ceiling raised even higher to try to reach more people who need child care assistance.
Marshall Dietz reported he had not received a response yet to his inquiries about the University’s heat index policies.
The Chair gave former Forum chair John Heuer five minutes to speak about the late Joe Straley. Heuer noted that he would not have formal status to introduce a resolution until his induction to the Forum in November. He read a proposed resolution honoring Straley’s life and accomplishments. Ernie Patterson recalled Straley and offered to sponsor the resolution on first reading.
“Around the Room”
The Chair encouraged members to share the topic most on their minds.
Marshall Dietz encouraged Employees to sign up for the North Carolina Flex plan as a way to save money on health care expenses. Michael McQuown noted a problem he had experienced with the Aon Consulting, the people who run the plan. He had submitted receipts several times to Aon for his Flex plan debit card but had not received a satisfactory response.
Chuck Brink hoped the University would continue its work to implement the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace recommendations, in particular its legislative agenda.
David Brannigan reiterated the importance of the team cleaning issue, saying that the release of documents had raised significant questions about the entire process used to select OS1. He invited members to continue this dialogue on the Forum listserv.
Jill Hartman noted that the University Grounds department had won the prestigious Green Star award as one of the best landscaped campuses in the United States. Department representatives will journey to Orlando to receive the award.
Keith Fogleman noted bad vibes from some of his co-workers concerning his Forum service, with approximately one-third of his fellow co-workers regarding his service with something approaching contempt. He was sick of this negative feedback about the Forum’s work, saying that these people do not want to know what the Forum is doing and had actually done. Brannigan reitreated the point, noting that the University Gazette does a good job in covering faculty matters but refuses to carry a letters to the editor page. He urged the Forum to commission a journal of a broader scope than InTouch. Brenda Denzler offered to include letters to the editor in InTouch, but Brannigan wanted something larger published, perhaps six pages of content in a glossy format sent to all Employees on a topic of the day, such as the affordable housing issue. Jackie Kylander said that her church publishes its bulletin for approximately 35 cents a copy on large legal paper. Matt Banks said that the hot memo process allows the Forum to send out page and a half mailers to campus for a minimal cost. He said that anything fancier would involve significant expenses. He also noted that the design, writing and publishing requirements could stretch the limits of the Forum Office.
McQuown suggested that the Forum ask the Daily Tar Heel for a page per issue or per week to devote to staff issues. Kylander suggested a weekly op-ed column on staff concerns, perhaps in the Daily Tar Heel or University Gazette. Brian White noted the need for volunteer contributions, saying that he had received only three or so donated articles in his three year tenure as lead editor for InTouch.
Brenda Denzler reported that she had experienced similar problems with Aon Consulting’s crediting practices for North Carolina Flex debit accounts. She also noted that a significant number of Employees did not receive ballots in this year’s Forum elections. Matt Banks noted that he had to carry the administrative burden of confirming delegate candidates’ service this year and the responsibility of getting ballots submitted via the hot memo process. He had submitted ballots to AIS two weeks before the ballot deadline but had been informed that three divisional ballots were not mailed out until one week before the deadline. He would follow up to find the source of the problem. Also, he would check with Institutional Research to see about possibilities for an on-line election process next year.
Roberta Massey said that she would take a trip with the OS1 team cleaning study group to Texas and New Mexico to participate in site visits with other University Employees.
Bradley Bone noted that TTA provided University Employees free bus service through September but that there had been little publicity about this benefit. He wondered whether TTA will extend the benefit into October. Banks said that TTA had originally offered free service only to State employees in Raleigh, but had been forced to expand the offer to University employees after an outcry. He presumed that TTA had lost a fair amount of money in the last month with the additional free riders and would not be anxious to repeat the loss in October.
Tom Arnel invited delegates to that afternoon’s hunger lunch in the Pit.
Jackie Kylander emphasized the need for a fair and equitable evaluation of the team cleaning process. She said the Forum could err by coming down so hard on the negative side of the equation, leading to closed ears in discussions on different topics. She said that the Forum needed proper input from those doing the cleaning and those working in the buildings undergoing the new system. Chuck Brink said that one building could not form the baseline for a scientific study. David Brannigan said that the OS1 documents constituted little more than a sales pitch.
Ernie Patterson noted that the team cleaning pilot process had started this morning. He said that the State Health plan had refused to reveal what particular procedures cost, and he reported that the State Health plan pays 110-150% more per procedure than Blue Advantage. Finally, he said that Chapel Hill Transit, while good, provided very limited service in the middle of the day. In contrast, the new Chatham shuttle buses cost two-thirds less than a comparable service offered by Chapel Hill Transit. He wondered why there was such a disparity in cost and noted the disparity impacts Employees’ parking costs.
The Chair suggested the Forum institute a legislative action committee. He added that the idea to come out from under the Office of State Personnel was a dangerous one, perhaps the worst thing the University could do. He understood that the UNC Health Care System, which had some years ago left the Office of State Personnel’s aegis, had paid its head director a $150,000 bonus for turning a 3% profit that was accomplished by laying off 200 employees. He said that the people of North Carolina had built those hospitals and did not deserve to have their workers driven out so that the Health Care System could give a $150,000 bonus to those making $450,000 a year.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:34 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary