Huntersville to look for new 911 call center
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVLLE – The town board voted Monday, Nov. 21, to look at new options for its 911 call center after years of discussion. Currently, the town’s 911 calls are all routed through the Cornelius Police Department’s call center.
The move is effectively a trial separation, as it will take six months to break the agreement between the two departments. During those months Cornelius will continue to field the emergency calls, but Huntersville will begin discussions to either create its own call center, partner with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department or remain with Cornelius.
Huntersville could save nearly $2 million over a 10-year period if they partner with Charlotte police, the option favored by Huntersville Police Chief Phil Potter and the board. The town currently pays Cornelius $450,045 a year for the call center. Charlotte could provide the same service for $262,676 annually. There would a one-time fee of $137,148 with Charlotte to begin the service, however.
Cornelius and Huntersville have been in talks for months about a possible split and although the savings are the driving force behind the potential change, Huntersville leaders have had issue with how Cornelius runs the center. Most notably, Huntersville pays 62 percent of the cost of the facility but doesn’t get 62 percent of the decision-making votes.
Huntersville Commissioner Danae Caulfield, who sits on the town’s police communication committee, said it makes financial sense to break ties and the town would still be focused on regionalism.
Cornelius Police Chief Bence Hoyle said he didn’t want to comment about the possible move since he hasn’t received any paperwork yet. However if Huntersville chose to leave, it wouldn’t affect Cornelius residents.
“Our priority, as directed by the town board, has always been focused on an intense level of customer service” and it will remain as such,” he said.
Historical and Veterans’ Memorial committee tabled
Official talks of a Historic Preservation Committee and Veterans’ Memorial Committee will have to wait until the board’s retreat next year after leaders voted 3-1 to move those items off of Monday’s agenda.
Caulfield, who served in the U.S. Air Force, had hoped to form the committees before her term in office was up. Caulfield lost earlier this month in her bid to unseat mayor Jill Swain.
Cornelius opened a veterans’ memorial on Veteran’s Day.
“Shame on us for not having one,” she said “… We’re a town of 50,000 (residents), I don’t care about the personal agendas you had against me in this election, this needs to be done.”
Caulfield sparred with commissioners Charles Jeter and Sarah McAulay who were both vocal in tabling the two committees because, they said, Caulfield hadn’t followed proper procedure. They both wanted Caulfield to first submit bylaws and hold a public meeting.
“How can we vote for something without knowing how it’s going to run or how much time town staff will need to devote to it?” Jeter said. “We’ve never voted for something like this without first having that information and having a public hearing.”
Caulfield said her motion was a vote of confidence to the residents that the town would tackle these matters immediately and could get the other information later.
She said after the meeting she hoped the vote wasn’t a personal attack.
“Despite the fact that Commissioner Jeter has attempted, at the dais and in the papers, to make it seem like I don’t know what I’m doing, I really do have a clue,” she said in an email Tuesday morning. “In an article right before the election, Jeter stated that my lack of knowledge on forming a committee frightened him. I would just have to offer him my moms advice, as mothers know best, please take some vitamin B complex as it is great for the nerves.”
Jeter said he wasn’t trying to insult Caulfield or kill her idea. He wanted to follow protocol.
“Without a doubt, Danae deserves credit for these committees, these are her babies, and I hope when we form them it’s noted as such, but in no way was last night a shot at her,” he said, “We’ve never voted to form a committee without first having a public hearing and understanding how that committee would operate. That’s the only reason we voted against it.”
The Historic Preservation Committee would have been a big help to the Torrence Lytle School that has fallen into disrepair. The school was the first north Mecklenburg County public school for black children.
A number of community supporters spoke at the meeting hoping the board would approve the committee.
Caulfield accused Jeter of going against promises he made during a September debate to do something to help the Torrence-Lytle School.
“At a debate in September, Commissioner Jeter stood in front of a group of residents and apologized for not doing anything for them or their neighborhood for the past six years he’s served on the board,” Caulfield said in her email. “He promised that if he were re-elected that he would do something this time.”