Commissioners of Enfield unanimously turned down the amended interlocal agreement for local funding costs for the Halifax County Central Communications Center on Monday.
The agreement is offered to five municipalities: Town of Enfield, Town of Weldon, Town of Scotland Neck, City of Roanoke Rapids and Town of Littleton.
According to previous articles in The Herald, Enfield, Weldon and Scotland Neck accepted the original agreement, Roanoke Rapids rejected it, while Littleton tabled the item. In an effort to persuade the two municipalities, the Halifax County Board of Commissioners approved on June 22 an amended and restated interlocal agreement regarding the local funding of the 911 center.
The “Amended and Restated Interlocal Agreement” proposed changes in the last paragraph under section four “Local Funding Obligations,” which reads: All funds received by the county from the municipal parties under this agreement will be deposited to the General Fund of the county. If there is a shortfall of budgeted revenues for the cost of personnel in a given fiscal year, the municipal parties will be required to remit additional funding to cover the shortfall. Likewise, if there is a surplus of budgeted revenues for cost of personnel in a given fiscal year, the county will remit the overage to the municipal parties. The same percentages used to determine the initial level of funding will apply to shortfalls and overages. Determination of whether there was a shortfall or overage in budgeted revenues will be determined by the County Finance Director on or before July 31 following the end of the fiscal year. Invoices for shortfalls or refunds for overages will be made on or before Aug. 15 following the end of the fiscal year.
The revision to the proposed agreement offers a change of the city paying based on the actual costs of the employees rather than budgeted costs.
Weldon and Littleton boards of commissioners tabled the amended agreement, while Roanoke Rapids rejected the offer. Mayor Eddie Braxton of Scotland Neck said they approved the amended agreement.
During a regular town meeting on Monday, Enfield Police Chief Chuck Hasty, who was appointed to the 911 board regarding the agreement, explained to officials the town already has an agreement for $74,032, but accepting the new agreement may result in paying more money next year. Hasty said he would prefer the town keep the original agreement to avoid financial complications that including owing money and reimbursement.
“And I don’t see that reimbursing us with how they schedule their people up there,” he said. “I’m still upset about the cost, but it is what it is.”
Hasty said each dispatcher at the 911 center is scheduled 31 hours of overtime each month, where one week they work 50 hours, another week they work 17 hours and another week 48 hours. He said they are 40-hour-a-week employees who do not have special consideration as first responders. Hasty said he presented the center with a schedule where employees would have 16 hours, cutting overtime in half.
“I think we’re paying as a town a lot of personnel issue for their budget for their overtime,” he said.
The center’s 2021-22 budget for salaries and overtime is $221,946 with $0 overtime for Enfield, Hasty said.
“Which is kind of high even after you look at the schedule that’s presented that reduces that down,” he said. “I want to actually present this in front of the 911 advisory board and also maybe get it to the commissioners to show how they can save the county money by changing this schedule without adding employees or taking away employees.”
Hasty asked the commissioners to keep the original agreement and not to consider the amended proposal where the town could get a small refund or owe nearly $6,000.
“I just don’t think it’s worth it,” he said. “We know what we have to pay, we can argue and fuss and gripe and complain with the county commissioners about the amount we pay and how they figure it. But at least we won’t get a surprise bill at the end of the physical year.”
Commissioner Bobby Whitaker agreed with Hasty.
“Chief I’m with you on that with staying on like that because we know they’re not giving no money back,” Whitaker said. “Either you’re going to break even or you’re going to owe them something. I don’t see us getting a refund.”
Town Administrator Tyree Davis said when he was police chief, the 911 bill started at nearly $11,000 and went to about $77,000.
Whitaker said many Enfield residents are unaware that each 911 call they make is costing the town money.
“I say that because they feel like they’re just making a random call, but when they make the call they’re costing the town,” he said.
Ronnie Locke, planning and zoning director, said he suspects expenses will increase this year due to higher volumes of calls.
Hasty said it is a process, but he wants to bring the information before the 911 board and then to the county commissioners.