Town tables pay for police officers

By: By Gabrielle Isaac -

BLADENBORO — The Bladenboro Board of Commissioners decided to table a discussion on adjusting the salary for police officers at its regular meeting on Monday.

“I know our police officers do a good job, but I think we need to hold off until we get our budget because I don’t want to promise money that we don’t have,” said Commissioner Jeff Atkinson. “We can’t promise it and take it away,”

Town Administrator John O’Daniel told the board Bladenboro police officers were getting paid less than the surrounding towns’ police officers. According to documents from O’Daniel, the minimum salary for a new police officer in Bladenboro is $29,230 — White Lake pays $32,435 minimum to a starting police officer.

Commissioner Billy Benson said it is unrealistic to compare the police officer salaries in Bladenboro with those in White Lake or Elizabethtown because they have more revenue.

The board ultimately decided to table further discussion until February. Town finance officer Melanie Hester suggested that the board make a decision so they could be included in the upcoming budget.

In other business, the commissioners:

— Heard from Hester who said that the Street Powell Bill, which is money the town receives from the state for patching and resurfacing roads and creating sidewalks, now has a new use. The Department of Transportation, according to Hester, now wants the money used on repaving. She suggested Harmony Homes Drive and Railroad Street behind First Citizen Bank be considered for repair. She said there was almost $50,000 of the Street Powell Bill left for this year. The commissioners voted to have Hester and O’Daniel look up prices for paving those roads.

— Heard from Mayor Rufus Duckworth who presented Terry Nance, a former Bladenboro commissioner, with his name plate and a plaque of recognition for his years of service on the board.

— Elected Commissioner Billy Benson as mayor pro-tem. The board also re-appointed Fire Chief Jackie Coleman to the Firefighters Relief Fund Trustees Board. The board seat holds two years.

— Heard from Joseph Russ, president of Bladenboro Dixie Youth Baseball, who thanked the board for letting him and the league use Wateree Park. He asked for continued use of the park and asked the board to consider repairing some of the lights on the field.

— Heard from O’Daniel who said that fire hydrant testing was finished, the trees on Railroad Street are set to be cut down in January, the substance abuse policy for town employees has been put into effect and N.C. Rural Water will do an annual report on the town’s water on Jan. 26.

— Hired William Hundley as a new police officer for the town.

Gabrielle Isaac is a reporter for The Robesonian in Lumberton. She can be reached at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @news_gabbie.

By Gabrielle Isaac