ST. PAULS — The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to pay the town’s police officers more, starting immediately.
The commissioners approved eliminating the first two steps in the police department’s pay scale, thus increasing the base salary by $2,000. The new pay scale will make the wages offered by the department comparable to the average of the salaries offered by North Carolina towns similar in size to St. Pauls, Police Chief Thomas Hagens said.
St. Pauls’ eight police officers also will start receiving overtime pay, Hagens said.
The town commissioners approved paying overtime in November, Town Administrator J.R. Steigerwald said. Before then, officers who worked overtime were compensated with time off.
The overtime pay starts with the next paycheck, Hagens said.
“As fast as we can get it done,” Steigerwald said.
In another money matter, the commissioners approved a $167,380.22 bid by Highland Paving to perform paving work on four streets. Highland beat out two other bidders for the project.
Steigerwald is to work out a contract before the work can begin. The work will take place on Lafayette Street, North Wilkinson Drive, North Keith Street and Blue Street.
The commissioners’ third money action was to approve a budget ordinance that reflects acceptance of a $350,000 Golden LEAF grant to help pay for a stormwater system repair project along Elizabeth and Johnson streets.
The project’s total cost is $750,000, Steigerwald said. But, the town is line to receive $340,000 in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds. The money is a portion of grant funds applied for by Robeson County government. The county is the grant fund recipient and will oversee distribution of the money.
The commissioners also discussed a conditional-use permit for an auto service station at 129 E. Broad St. The business was never mentioned by name even as the commissioners discussed, sometimes passionately, issues such as too many vehicles stored on the property, and work being down outside the building, which raises the possibility of oil leaking into the stormwater system.
The business has space for 17 vehicles, but more that that often are seen at the location.
“You can’t even walk between the vehicles to get to the barber shop,” Mayor Gerard Weindel said.
The mayor also raised the issue of vehicles without tags parked on the sidewalk and on the side of the street using spaces intended for customers of surrounding businesses. Vehicles without tags are considered junk vehicles and it is against the law to park junk vehicles on the side of the street.
“If it is on the street we can tow it away,” Steigerwald said. “We don’t even have to warn him (the owner). “
“I’ve threatened him to get them off the sidewalk,” Chief Hagens said.
“We shouldn’t threaten him. We should just tow them,” Commissioner Evans Jackson said.
The conditional-use permit is necessary because the business was sold to a new owner in August, Steigerwald said after the meeting. A conditional-use permit was in effect at the time of the purchase, but the new owner did not know he needed to reapply for the permit.
The town administrator will write up the permit and take a copy to the new owner. A public hearing on the permit has been scheduled for Jan. 29. The commissioners will not vote on the permit until Feb. 8.
In other business, the commissioners:
— Were told it will be another two to two-and-half months before they see budget figures using the new financial software that went live Oct. 15. The new software did not communicate well with the old software, which was running July 1 to Oct. 15. As a result budget entries from that time period are being entered individually by hand.
— Scheduled a retreat for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 10. It will be held at the St. Pauls Municipal Building.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.