06/10/07 — Sheriff concerned about covering city annexed property

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Sheriff concerned about covering city annexed property

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on June 10, 2007 2:01 AM

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders is worried he won't have enough deputies or the money to pay them to be everywhere they need to be if he has to keep an eye on some of what are technically the city's newest developments.

As Wayne County continues to grow and more areas like the new Wal-Mart shopping center on N.C. 581 near Rosewood are developed, the duties and responsibilities of the sheriff's office increase -- even as those properties are satellite annexed by Goldsboro.

Currently there are 43 such lots, and, Winders told the commissioners earlier this month, that's beginning to put a strain on his deputies and his resources.

"A lot of them are convenience stores, except for the Food Lion in Mar Mac, but the big issue that's brought this about is the up-and-coming Wal-Mart on 581. That's the biggest concern. The building is rising quickly," Winders said. "My position is that it's going to be an increased number of calls, and if we're going to provide services, I've got to have some help.

"I don't want to be the bad guy, but I can't do it with what I've got today. We need to have something done."

In 2006, he said, the Wal-Mart in Goldsboro -- not including the rest of the shopping center -- had 243 calls. The corner the new Wal-Mart's going up on -- formerly a field -- had none.

"There's going to be a difference," Winders said. "That's going to add more hours I'll lose on something that's the city's, and we get no funding for that."

The problem, he explained, is that his manpower is not keeping up with his responsibilities. On any given shift, the sheriff's office only has six deputies dedicated to patrol and answering calls. The rest are assigned to other areas. The city has 15 officers on patrol.

In his budget request for 2007-08, Winders asked for 20 new vehicles and nine new positions -- eight deputies and one detective. Right now, he said, he's only getting 10 of the cars and those will be paid for out of drug seizure funds.

The sheriff's office has not received new deputies in at least five years.

"He's saying he doesn't have any more resources, and he's correct," County Manager Lee Smith said, adding that unfortunately, the county's budget is just too tight. "I don't see it happening this year."

Because of that, several county commissioners feel the city should be taking more responsibility for those areas it has decided to annex.

"The fire departments are getting compensated, and the sheriff is not. That just doesn't seem logical," Commissioner Efton Sager said. "I don't want to get into a feud with the city, but with a tight budget in particular, you've got to look at where you're providing services for everybody.

"I think this board should take a stand that we do not provide any service to satellite annexations."

And legally, City Manager Joe Huffman acknowledged, it is Goldsboro's responsibility to make sure police and other services are provided.

But, he explained, that can be done either through Goldsboro's police department or by contracting with another law enforcement agency such as the sheriff's office.

It's possible, he continued that those contracts were drawn up with no monetary compensation included because of the difference in economic benefit each entity receives from these areas.

The city receives property tax, a portion of the sales tax and the revenue from beer and alcohol sales, which is one of the primary reasons many of these areas are satellite annexed to begin with, Winders said, adding that such places also tend to have higher crime rates.

On the other hand, the county also receives revenue through its higher property tax and larger portion of the sales tax.

In addition, the city is often responsible for running water and sewer lines, while the county provides rescue services.

"When we have these agreements, I really think there are some benefits to both the city and the county," Huffman said. "It helps the county grow and the city grow. It's a win-win."

Still, he said the city realizes a strain is being placed on the county's deputies.

It's a problem Winders informed the city of in a letter in March.

When that went unanswered, he submitted his 90-day notice on May 14 that his office would no longer be responding as the primary law enforcement provider to those areas.

"With the recent cuts in the upcoming budget due to the demands placed upon the county funding, I have concluded that the sheriff's office can no longer provide this free service for the City of Goldsboro," he wrote.

Since then, though, discussions have begun between Winders, Huffman and Goldsboro police Chief Tim Bell.

"Maybe this needs to change. Maybe it's time to look at these," Huffman said. "He's trying to make ends meet, and we're trying to figure out how we can help him."

What Winders is hoping will happen is that he and Bell can agree to trade responsibilities on some of those 43 sites, as well as some other areas within or very near city limits.

They were planning to discuss the matter on Friday.

"We're not going to leave them in the hole. If somebody calls for help, we're going to be coming," Winders said. "We're going to do our job.

"We're going to work this issue out and work together. We always have. I've just got to have some help."