December 24, 2014 Edition

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Hoxie faces hard decisions in 2015

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Hoxie City Council discussed adjustments needed for the 2015 budget at a meeting on Thursday. The main focus of the discussion was on a proposal to shut down the city dispatch and have all 911 calls and radio traffic go through the Lawrence County 911 Communication Center.

Hoxie Police Chief Glen Smith said that moving the radio communications to the county would save the city much needed revenue. Mayor Lanny Tinker said that cost is continuing to rise for the city while revenue has stayed the same and the city has to figure out ways to save money.

"Figures dictate what we do," Tinker said. "We have got to stay in business."

Several council members said they believe the move to county dispatch is a necessary one, but wanted to be sure to handle it as respectfully as possible.

"I understand we need to do it, and we do need to do it, but we need to do it right," Alderman Tim Taylor said.

The Hoxie dispatch currently has one full-time employee for the day shift and part-time employees to cover odd hours. Turnover remains high for dispatch and has led to extra expenses in training.

The council discussed writing the contract to take effect on Feb. 1, 2015, but Chief Smith and City Clerk Katie Smith warned the council that after the first of the year, the full-time employee would be entitled to vacation time and benefits.

Tinker told the council that while they have a responsibility to the employees, they have a greater responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the city.

The council agreed to reconvene on Dec. 30 at noon to further discuss the budget and review a contract with county dispatch effective Jan. 1, 2015. Both items will be voted on at that meeting.

In other business:

  • the council voted to amend the zoning code to create an exception to setback requirements. The exception allows in cases where the majority of existing principal structures do not meet the minimum requirement, new structures may instead apply to use the average setback of that area.

  • Tinker informed the council that he intends to sell the city's backhoe. The council voted to allow the city to advertise for bids for a new trackhoe, which Tinker said would serve the city better with sewer repairs.

  • the sewer lines at Northeast Kelly and Northeast Carolina continue to be worked on after weather and further breaks have caused delays.

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