Williamston Dispatch request sent to finance committee

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Stan Welch

A delegation of government and law enforcement officials from Williamston were disappointed Tuesday night, when their efforts to transfer their dispatch responsibilities to the County 911 system were shunted to the County Council’s finance committee.

Mayor Mack Durham, Councilman Otis Scott, Police Chief Tony Taylor, Capt. Jay Grubbs, and Capt. Kevin Marcee were all on hand to offer their support to the transfer of that responsibility, but Council Chairman Francis Crowder had other ideas.

District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson explained that any additional cost incurred by the County by accepting the responsibility for handling the dispatching duties for Williamston could be absorbed in the current budget, but that the future costs would need to be addressed in the coming budget.

Crowder abruptly ended any further discussion, handing the issue off to the finance committee for further study.

Mayor Durham, in a statement to The Journal after the meeting, said he and the other representatives were a bit surprised by Crowder’s actions.

“We had anticipated that the public safety committee (chaired by Wilson) was supportive of the request. We think they still are, but we will need to attend the next finance committee meeting and present our request to them as well.”

The Williamston request may have gotten caught in a tiff between Chairman Crowder and finance committee chairman Tommy Dunn.

Prior to the presentation of the Williamston request, Dunn and Crowder had a brief spat, as Dunn presented the finance committee’s recommendations for the purchase of several computers.

Dunn’s committee had presented the requests at a prior meeting and had been instructed to give any possible advantage to local vendors, easing the dependence on the state purchasing system, which offers many advantages as vendors strive to attain a working relationship with the various government entities.

When Dunn announced the committee’s first recommendation for the purchase of a laptop, Crowder, who was involved in the computer industry during his career, retorted that he had found adequate equipment for the prescribed use on Dell’s website for approximately $300 less.

“I know that seems like a small amount” said Crowder, “but $300 here and $300 there and $300 over there, and it adds up. So I will be voting against this.”

Dunn was clearly displeased, especially when the vote was a 3-3 tie (Councilwoman Floyd left early due to a family illness) and the request was defeated. The three votes against the purchase happened to come from the three members of last year’s finance committee; Crowder, Wilson and Moore.

During a subsequent request, Dunn stated that perhaps the entire Council needed to agree on what a local vendor meant.

“We need to agree on what local vendor means. Quit moving the box around on me,” Dunn said.

The remainder of purchase requests were approved unanimously; but the Williamston issue was the next agenda item.