LAURINBURG — Despite suggestions to consolidate the Laurinburg Police Department and Scotland County Sheriff’s Office, council does not believe the city will benefit or save money.
During this week’s regular monthly meeting, Woodrow Pierce, a Laurinburg resident and former downtown business owner, asked council to consider merging the police with the sheriff’s office. Originally planning to present the case for consolidation along side former Scotland County Commissioner Bill Morgan, Pierce stood before council alone.
Originally planning to present the case for consolidation along side former Scotland County Commissioner Bill Morgan, Pierce stood before council alone.
According to Pierce, the city would save $3 million of the $3.2 million budgeted for the police department annually by the city.
“We brought this up in 2004 or 05 and we found out that it is not a feasible option because the citizens of Laurinburg would be loosing protection,” said council member J.D. Willis, a former county commissioner of 22 years.
Willis also pointed out that the city would not save $3 million because the city would still need to fund law enforcement.
According to city officials, the city has six patrol cars out per shift with response times between 2 and 4 minutes to 911 call. They said the sheriff’s office only has four deputies patrolling the entire county per shift and response times range from 10 to 30 minutes.
“Consolidation would achieve greater efficiency because it would put all county investigation departments under one roof, “Pierce said. “Consolidation would promote unity among law enforcement officers.”
“Our Sheriff Ralph Kersey is in full support of this if consolidation happened,” Pierce said, who claimed the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have consolidated law enforcement and seen success. “There is a lot that could be done with $3 million a year.”
There is an organization of chiefs of police the are willing to work with municipalities both large and small.
If consolidation did occur, rule number one would be no jobs being lost, Mayor Matthew Block said.
The mayor also pointed out a reason people choose to live in cities is for the increased law enforcement presence, saying “people that live in the country like to own their own firearms, it’s a different lifestyle.”
In other business, representatives from Creech and Associates architectural firm and Ediface Inc. construction company, the firms creating the Laurinburg City Hall gave an update on construction and financing bids for the project.
Council members recessed the presentation from Ediface until Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. in the council chambers for a special meeting. The representatives are expected to present options to lower cost, as well as financing options they felt met the city’s needs.
Tuesday’s meeting also featured remarks from those against the $8.1 million project, including James Garby, who shared the views of a Donald Anderson who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.
Garby, a candidate for the at-large seat on council, read Anderson’s remarks that urged the council to consider using the money on other projects rather that a new City Hall.
Dee Hammond, the at-large incumbent, asked for Anderson’s address. That prompted Block, who is opposed to the City Hall project, to ask Hammond why she needed the address.
Hammond said that those who speak during the comment period are asked to state their name and address.
Block said that Anderson is not a resident of Laurinburg.
In other business, council also approved allocating $3,466.68 to go toward “On the Road with Cecil” in Laurinburg/Scotland County.
The 30-minute feature is shown on WPDE ABC 15 and promotes businesses and organizations in the county. The series will span about 13 weeks.
Council also approved an ordinance to increase the General Fund balance by $38,050 and allocate the $38,050 to the General Fund – General Maintenance/Improvements.
City Manager Charles Nichols was appointed as the voting delegate for the North Carolina League of Municipalities Annual Conference Sept. 20-23 in Greenville. Hammond was appointed as the alternate voting delegate.
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