On Thursday, Elkin’s top cop said he personally objected to a town budget proposal that would close the lobby door of its police department during evening hours and punt local 911 calls to a Dobson communications office.
Two communications dispatchers who answer emergency 911 calls inside the Elkin Police Department during evening hours would no longer be necessary under the town budget proposal set for adoption. The dispatcher jobs would be eliminated. Emergency calls will be relayed to Surry 911.
If the 2014-2015 budget is passed by commissioners, the police chief would be compelled to lock the doors of the police department lobby from 6 p.m. through 6 a.m. Residents showing up at the police station off-hours would be guided to a phone number of the sergeant on call to be placed outside the lobby door.
“The town knows where I personally stand on this issue… We need the (communications) positions here,” said Chief Monroe Wagoner. “I told everyone how I feel about this matter… This is not the right thing to do.”
At a public hearing last Monday at Town Hall, residents charged the podium to blockade the passage of the 2014-2015 town budget and urged commissioners to revisit the town plan on its police department, funds to the library, and leaf and limb services.
Though commissioners did not commit to changes in the budget proposal, they granted a third and final opportunity for the public to weigh in on matters through a budget workshop to be held at Town Hall on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Commissioners will resume their recessed public hearing upon conclusion of the budget workshop.
“I’m in Tennessee right now on vacation with my family, but my heart is in Elkin. We should not be going through what we’re going through as residents. I am cutting my vacation two days short because I am one of many who will be heading to Town Hall on the 17th,” said Teresa Howell, a resident of Elkin. “We need everyone concerned there.”
Commissioners said these budget matters would be shaped easier if the public were to participate at workshops leading up to the budget.
Elkin proposed a $4,759,926 budget, a six-percent increase over last year. The Water Fund is expected to generate $1,167,810, a 3.9-percent increase.
The proposed budget shows the town will have a surplus of more than $200,000. The town would remove $117,000 of surplus revenue and invest in two Capital Reserve Funds earmarked for economic development projects and recreation.
The police department dispatcher positions who are on the chopping block cost the town about $80,000.
Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.