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Meeting set to discuss 911 dispute

COVINGTON - Porterdale and Newton County officials are planning to meet Tuesday night to attempt to iron out a dispute over a proposed contract with the Covington-Newton County 911 Center.

The dispute between Porterdale and the 911 Center began earlier this year when the town was informed it would have to pay its proportional share of the cost of non-emergency police calls dispatched through the 911 Center or handle its calls on its own.

"I hope we can come to a mutually agreed-upon decision on exactly what Porterdale should have to pay on the 911 Center," Porterdale Mayor Bobby Hamby said Friday.

Hamby said he was contacted Thursday by Newton County Commission Chairman Kathy Morgan, who told him the commissioners wanted to hold a work session with city officials to discuss the proposed 911 contract.

Morgan had said at a BOC meeting May 19 that she would agree to a joint work sesson at the direction of the county attorney. Morgan's statement came after Porterdale City Council member Robert Foxworth stood up at the BOC meeting and ripped to shreds a letter from Morgan and Covington Mayor Kim Carter. That letter gave Porterdale a deadline of June 10 to either approve and sign a contract for dispatch services or until June 5 to submit an alternate contract for review.

The contract calls for Porterdale to pay for its percentage of dispatch calls generated by the town that are handled by the 911 Center. The contract originally called for Porterdale to pay about $46,000 in 2009. That figure was reduced to $35,048 after Porterdale sent a 90-plus page document to Covington and Newton County earlier this month outlining the city's concerns with the proposed contract. Among those concerns was the manner in which Porterdale's fee was calculated.

"They did adjust that, but they really didn't address any of the other questions and concerns that we had," Hamby said Friday.

Porterdale officials have been seeking a meeting with officials from the county and the city of Covington since the fee for dispatch services issue first arose. Hamby said Tuesday's meeting is a step in the right direction for Porterdale.

"Every time we have made any communication with the county, we have told them we would like to sit down and discuss it," Hamby said. "Up until this point, they haven't been willing to do that. I'm optimistic now that we can get this thing worked out."

The work session Tuesday is scheduled for 6 p.m., prior to the BOC's regular meeting at 7 p.m. at the Newton County Historic Courthouse.