LAURINBURG — The Laurinburg City Council on Tuesday amended an agreement with the county designating its commitment to funding for the the county’s emergency call center, slated to come into service by the end of the year.
The council and Scotland County Board of Commissioners have for several months exchanged revised copies of the agreement without settling on a dollar amount and a length of time that the city will contribute to the center’s personnel costs. The center will dispatch for the Laurinburg Police Department and Laurinburg Fire Department as well as the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office and Scotland County EMS.
City Manager Charles Nichols reported that he, Mayor Tommy Parker, County Manager Kevin Patterson, and Scotland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Guy McCook met last week to address that section of the agreement. On Tuesday, council approved an agreement specifying that for the first five years of the center’s operation, the city will contribute $250,000.
For the sixth year, the city’s payment will fall to $200,000 and afterward will decrease by $25,000 each year until the center’s 10th year of operation, which will be the final year of city involvement.
Prior versions of the agreement committed the city to one-third of the center’s personnel costs for three years, with a $250,000 cap each year.
“It’s pretty simple now, and it’s probably a little more favorable to them initially but it’s pretty straightforward,” said Mayor Tommy Parker.
The agreement approved by the city gives the final decision in the event of a dispute and failed mediation to the county, except where funding is concerned.
“We didn’t want to make all provisions of the agreement subject to the final authority of the county commissioners, especially when it came to the funding requirement, so if there was a dispute or some latent ambiguity in the agreement that we didn’t pick up, that they couldn’t use that provision to basically have the last say in what happened with our funding requirement,” said city attorney Bill Floyd.
In other business, council set a public hearing for its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Sept. 16 for the rezoning of 44 acres on X-Way Road near the John Blue House from residential to industrial.
That request was made by J.P. Locklear for the purpose of installing a solar array, which is permitted only in industrial zones and only by conditional use permit. The city’s planning board has unanimously recommended against the rezoning.
If the rezoning request is approved, another public hearing will be required before the city can grant a conditional use permit for a solar array.
“The public hearing is only going to be for the rezoning,” Floyd said. “The hearing will have nothing to do with the conditional use permit requirement.”
Also on Tuesday, council heard from Rob Macy, chairman of the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce Re-entry council, which works to connect those who have been released from prison with employment. According to Macy, in 2013 670 county residents, half of them high school dropouts, were on probation or parole, with 50 percent of them unemployed during their supervisory period.
“Currently, members of the council are working on an employers’ workshop for October, and we’re going to target our temp agencies who are great at finding immediate employment for folks,” Macy said. “We’re going to make them a little bit smarter on federal tax credits, on federal bonding, and also the NCWorks program that helps our case managers track how we train folks, how we resource folks, and how we hunt down jobs.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169. Follow her on Twitter @emkaylbg.