Police chief urges commissioners to rethink emergency service agreement

Tomeka Sinclair The Robesonian

MAXTON — The chief of police here told Maxton’s Board of Commissioners to reconsider an interlocal agreement for emergency 911 services with Robeson County.

The agreement mandates the town pay $15 per resident to Robeson County to continue offering services for the next three years, or roughly $32,000, according to Chief Na’Shayla Nelson.

The board voted to refer to Maxton’s County Board of Commissioners representative in order to get a better understanding of the agreement.

“It should be noted that Maxton is already contributing to E-911 services through the state … so the county is already receiving funding from our citizens and they’re asking for additional funding from Maxton,” Nelson said. “With this interlocal agreement, we’re basically paying double.”

The way the system works is that when a Maxton resident calls 911, the call goes to county emergency services, then the Maxton Police Department is called and the department dispatches an officer, Nelson said.

“They’re not actually dispatching calls for us,” she said.

In the Scotland County portion of the town, a sheriff’s deputy is dispatched.

“So we’re looking at two different counties that are requiring different services,” Nelson said.

The police chief suggested the town consider paying $5,000 to $8,000 to equip the town’s dispatch center with the capability of handling its own calls versus “paying approximately $32,000 for partial service.” The town would still enter into the interlocal agreement but not as written.

“I suggest that we oppose the interlocal agreement as written — that we get the county to give us a secondary designation so that we can dispatch our own 911 calls,” Nelson said.

The Maxton commissioners unanimously agreed to meet with the town’s county Board of Commissioners representative to further discuss the issue, after a motion was made by Commissioner Paul McDowell.

In other business, the commissioners got a first look at, and offered input on, the town’s new website, which is being designed by Joe White. The new website has tabs that allow users to view the town’s government and committees, pay bills, catch up on local events and apply for jobs.

The new website is part the town’s Economic Development Strategic Five-Year Plan.

“We came in and customized the website to meet the needs of the townspeople and also give them the information that they need,” White said.

McDowell asked White if the town had a Facebook page that could link to the website.

“People are on Facebook a lot more than they’re going to be on that,” he said.

The police department’s page is linked to the site but the town does not have one, White said.

The lack of town-related photos on the site was questioned.

White said the photos used were found on Google.

“I would suggest hiring a professional photographer,” he said.

The goal is for the website to go live to the public in one month.

In other business, the commissioners agreed to allow the town’s finance director to make necessary amendments and adjustments to prepare documentation for the 2020-21 fiscal year audit. S. Preston Douglas & Associates, based in Lumberton, will be auditing the town’s finances.

The commissioners also voted to move forward with amending text in the town’s Zoning Ordinance, as recommended by the Maxton Planning Board, to be in compliance with the North Carolina General Assembly’s Chapter 160D, which contains local planning and development regulations.

A public hearing on the matter will be held at the Board of Commissioner’s next meeting.

Also on Tuesday, the commissioners voted to leave the town’s candidate filing fee in Scotland County at $72 for the mayoral seat and $36 for the Board of Commissioners seat. A copy of the fee will be sent to Robeson County and the state board of elections offices.

The Board appointed Diane Dixon to the Town’s Economic Development Strategic Five-Year Plan Committee.

Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.