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Hertford refuses to pay 911 bill

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Quentin Jackson

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By Peter Williams
The Perquimans Weekly

Friday, January 11, 2019

HERTFORD — Hert­ford of­fi­cials say they will refuse to pay a bill from Perquimans County for 911 ser­vices un­til they get an ac­count­ing of what the charges are for.

Coun­cil­man Quentin Jack­son ad­dressed the 911 ser­vices bill, es­ti­mated to cost Hert­ford about $74,000 an­nu­ally, dur­ing a coun­cil work ses­sion Mon­day night.

In 1993, Perquimans County and the towns of Hert­ford and Win­fall signed an agree­ment to create a coun­ty­wide emer­gency phone sys­tem. In the agree­ment, the towns agreed to help pay a share of the sys­tem’s to­tal costs af­ter de­duct­ing the ex­pense of med­i­cal as­sis­tance calls.

Jack­son said the sys­tem is un­fair to Hert­ford res­i­dents, be­cause they are also county tax­pay­ers. He said for years, Hert­ford has been re­ceiv­ing a bill from Perquimans for 911 ser­vices that doesn’t in­clude item­ized charges, and the town’s just been pay­ing it.

“For 26 years you have been get­ting robbed,” Jack­son claimed, ad­dress­ing his re­marks to the au­di­ence for the coun­cil meet­ing.

New po­lice Chief Den­nis Brown said he ques­tioned the 911 ser­vices bill when he first saw it. The county han­dles dis­patch du­ties for Hert­ford po­lice and fire ser­vices 24 hours a day, and for the town’s util­i­ties de­part­ment dur­ing nights and on week­ends.

Brown said the town’s 911 bill isn’t based on ac­tual calls gen­er­ated in Hert­ford, but is 12 per­cent of the 911 sys­tem’s to­tal costs af­ter de­duct­ing the ex­pense for med­i­cal dis­patch calls.

Brown said Perquimans County has a great 911 dis­patch sys­tem, but what it’s cost­ing Hert­ford needs to be dis­cussed.

“What I would do is not pay it (the bill),” Coun­cil­man Frank Nor­man said.

Town Man­ager Pamela Hur­dle called the town’s 911 fee “a bud­get night­mare” be­cause of­fi­cials never re­ally know what it will be un­til the last weeks of the fis­cal year.

“It’s June be­fore you know what the bill is go­ing to be,” she said.

Throw­ing up his hands, Jack­son asked, “If they send us a bill for $100,000, is that just it?”

He re­minded the au­di­ence that Town Coun­cil is charged with be­ing “stew­ards” of the $70,000-plus in tax­payer funds the 911 ser­vice is cost­ing Hert­ford.

Coun­cil­man Sid Eley said the town should take the is­sue to the county.

“Let the (county) man­ager know we don’t like dou­ble tax­a­tion,” Eley said.

Perquimans County Man­ager Frank Heath was not avail­able Thurs­day for com­ment.

Hert­ford coun­cilors said they would de­lay vot­ing on the 911 con­tract un­til their reg­u­lar meet­ing next week.

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