Memo-02-12-2019-Item-15

February 12, 2019

MEMO TO:          Randy Martin, Interim Town Manager

                             Mayor and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Rhonda C. Ferebee, Town Clerk

SUBJECT:             Americans with Disability Act (ADA) Transition Plan Update and Policy Proposal - (Summary & Suggested Motions)

The Town of Emerald Isle late last summer, along with 196 other municipalities, received correspondence from the NC Department of Transportation’s Office of Civil Rights regarding the requirement for the Town to implement an ADA Transition Plan pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulation.  Due to Hurricane Florence the State of North Carolina delayed communication with municipalities over the implementation status allowing more time for this process.  Following Hurricane Florence additional reference materials and guidance for ADA best practices for State and Local Governments was obtained in order to assist municipalities with compliance and based on the direction provided the following three items are recommended immediately for the Board’s consideration:

  1. Select and name an ADA Coordinator. The ADA Coordinator is a key contact person who makes it easy for the public to identify someone within the organization to help them with questions and concerns about disability discrimination and that contact information must be readily available to the public.  It was recommended that I be named ADA Coordinator based on my position as Town Clerk as well as my role in Human Resources.  The development and implementation of the ADA Transition Plan will however require the efforts and participation of all departments including a lead Transition Plan Coordinator to be determined in the future.
  2. ADA Policy Statement. A draft ADA Policy Statement modeled after the NCDOT’s ADA policy statement is provided for Board consideration. Recommendation is made for approval of this policy statement that includes a general statement prohibiting the discrimination based on disability, defining disability and the Town’s commitment to providing reasonable accommodation, providing access to persons with disabilities and ensuring communications with the disabled are as effective as communications with others.
  3. Grievance Procedure.  Local governments with 50 or more employees are required to adopt and publish procedures for resolving grievances arising under Title II of the ADA.  These procedures provide a system for resolving complaints of disability discrimination in a prompt and fair manner. The ADA does not require the Town to take any action that would fundamentally alter the nature of its programs or services or impose an undue financial or administrative burden. 

Following the adoption of the policy statement, grievance procedures, and the naming of the ADA Coordinator, the Town would need to begin the self-evaluation process in order to develop the Town’s ADA Transition Plan.  Attached is a rough draft of the self-evaluation form as provided by the NCDOT Office of Civil Rights that begins a very preliminary start to the process.  The purpose and scope of the self-evaluation is to identify barriers in programs and activities that would prevent persons with disabilities from access, and includes evaluation of policies and practices.  As the Town begins the self-evaluation and development of its ADA Transition Plan it should be noted that it may be determined that in addition to town staff the need for private consultants / contractors may be required when reviewing and identifying modifications that may be found to be necessary in order to make facilities accessible to persons with disabilities.

Copies of ADA related correspondence and informational material is included in your packets for reference as well.  

In order for the Town to take the first step in the ADA Transition Plan implementation and become fully compliant, it is recommended that these first actions be approved.

We appreciate your consideration of this matter, and will be glad to answer any questions.