New tactical vests for city police officers, clarification of a new policy for overnight trips for the Hamlet Senior Center and revisiting the current water meter situation were the highlights of Tuesday evening’s budget work session at Hamlet City Hall.
NEW TACTICAL VESTS
Hamlet Police Chief Dennis Brown gave a presentation on new ballistic vests for his officers.
“The vests we have now are not protective enough for what our officers can face in today’s environment,” said Brown. “We have here an option that would protect us in tactical situations far better than what we currently are using.”
The vest that received the most praise is a version from Point Blank Enterprises, Inc. It allows for the insertion of two ballistic plates to protect the officer in the front and on the back. The daily-use vests the officers currently wear is the A-3 model.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our officers,” said Councilman Eddie Martin, former chief of the Rockingham Police Department. “We want our officers to have the best equipment.”
“I don’t want to talk about any other vests,” said Councilman Oscar Sellars. “The last vest he showed the council, in my opinion, is the one that we ought to go purchase.
“I am for the safety of the officers … even small towns are not immune from what we’ve seen throughout the country.”
SENIOR CENTER TRIP POLICIES
Sarah Locklear, director of the Hamlet Senior Center, gave a presentation on the updates to the center’s trip policies.
Two weeks ago, at the monthly council meeting, Locklear’s mother and former Senior Center director Susan Sellers, as well as many community members addressed the council regarding the concern that the city of Hamlet was doing away with permitting the popular overnight motorcoach trips sponsored by the center.
The actual concern of the city was that the complementary trips or “comps” given by the motorcoach companies were being improperly used.
Locklear stated that she and City Manager Matthew Christian had worked out a plan that should satisfy all parties concerned.
“The (two) comp seats that are earned for the registered participants are for 40 people,” said Locklear. “Then we have to supply two people to go on the trip.
“The money is sent back to the city, (the city initially pays for the trip for the two employees), then Diamond Tours will reimburse the city for those seats. There is no money taken from the city except for the per-diem ($23 a day).”
“The money that comes back goes into the Senior Center Budget, right?” asked Councilwoman Abbie Covington. “It’s a wash?”
“No, ma’am it pays for the trips,” said Locklear. “And it goes back into the city budget.”
According to the PowerPoint presentation co-authored by Christian and Locklear:
New Policy: “All group leaders will be selected and paid for when the trip is advertised. The value of any ‘comps’ earned will be received by City Hall to reimburse group leader expenses.”
Expected Changes: “To limit city resources and to provide the best experience for travelers: Trips will be limited to one motorcoach bus. No more that maximum number of seats allowed. Trip goers will be first come first served. Once passenger seat limit is met, individuals will be placed on a waiting list. If a registered traveler cancels their trip, individuals on the waiting list will be contacted to offer them the opportunity to go on the trip.”
The upcoming trip to Toronto, Canada and Niagara Falls is scheduled to depart on Sunday, June 4 and will have 80 participants.
Christian presented a breakdown of “Smart Meter” costs and what funding would be utilized on the project.
“We’ve talked a lot about water meters and that’s the biggest tangible project I have details on,” said Christian.
A slide in Christian’s presentation showed that — based on network, meters, meter installation, software, professional services (Program management, Software Configuration and Bonding) and contingency — the total project would cost approximately $1.9 million.
“This cost is more than we have in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds so we’ll have to figure out how to make up the difference there,” said Christian.
“Roughly how much deficiency would we have left over after we spent ARPA funds?” asked Mayor Bill Bayless.
“We have a million dollars of ARPA funds and if we were to do only water meters it’s two million,” said Christian. “We would have to come up with the difference between what we had in ARPA and the total cost to complete the project.”
Covington made the motion that the ARPA funds be used as a pilot project for funding 1,500 meters and utilizing the post-installation outcome as a data source. The motion carried 4-1 with Councilman Jesse McQueen dissenting.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:42 p.m.
The next Hamlet City Council Meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13 at the council chambers.