Hertford refuses to pay 911 bill
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.