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Panel aims to boost cooperation between Brunswick board, sheriff
[February 09, 2013]

Panel aims to boost cooperation between Brunswick board, sheriff

Feb 09, 2013 (Star-News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners is looking for a stronger line of communication with Sheriff John Ingram's office.

At a recent board meeting, Commissioners Chairman Phil Norris created a joint committee for the two to talk about budget and funding issues on a regular basis.

The committee is an attempt to increase cooperation among elected officials in the county. The commissioners already meet with board of education members regularly.

Norris said the idea is not to infringe on the sheriff's autonomy.

"We don't tell them what to do, and they don't tell us what to do," he said.

Instead, Chief Deputy Charlie Miller said the meetings are more about giving commissioners information about the sheriff's operations. But the biggest topic is about the budget.

Miller is also on the school board and has experience working with the commissioners on a joint committee with the schools.

"They don't have any control over our operations, but they have control over our funding," Miller said. "It's going to be more about budgetary concerns." Norris said the idea came about from the board's newest members: Frank Williams and Pat Sykes. The two wondered why there wasn't more cooperation between elected officials, Norris said.

"They have a lot of good energy and new ideas," he said, Williams recently created a commission aimed at helping further small business in the county.

Norris also used his chairman powers to create a policy committee to help determine whether the county should switch from its current fire fee to a fire tax.

The county is the only one in North Carolina that uses a fire fee. The county's volunteer fire departments draw the fees from districts.

A fire tax would allow for all fire departments to draw from a pot of funds, creating parity.

Norris said the separate committees help the county operate more efficiently.

"We can bounce around ideas," Norris said. "We are looking at doing things better with the same amount of money or finding ways to do things with less money." The committee meetings are open to the public, but no meeting dates have been set yet.

Jason Gonzales: 343-2075 On Twitter: @StarNews_Jason ___ (c)2013 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) Visit the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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