Alderman meeting highlights: police report, Waste Pro contract, open seat
BLACK MOUNTAIN - The Black Mountain Police Department made 111 drug arrests in 2019, according to the Police Department Annual Report.
The report was presented by Police Chief Shawn Freeman at the Feb. 11 Board of Aldermen meeting.
Of the 111 narcotic arrests made, three of those became Black Mountain’s first successful federal cases resulting in significant jail time for the offenders.
Freeman called 2019 a year of change and accomplishment for the police department.
Since 2014, the police department has seen an 11% increase in calls for service. In 2019, calls totaled 26,845.
Freeman said he has focused on cutting costs for the town during his time as police chief and has done so through grants and programs. He said donations from the residents of Black Mountain have also helped. One of these donations provided a vest and dog food for a year for a police dog.
“I’ve never been in a community that’s so giving and wants to take care of the community,” Freeman said. “I just can’t describe how much that means to have the support.”
Sanitation could cost millions
Black Mountain’s sanitation contract with Waste Pro is coming to an end this year.
Town manager Josh Harrold presented the board with numbers on renewing the contract or bringing sanitation in-house. Harrold noted that all other municipalities in Buncombe County does sanitation internally.
If a contract with Waste Pro is renewed, Harrold said the town can expect a nearly 26% increase in cost.
If sanitation is done internally, Harrold recommended having at least six employees and estimated a total cost of $767,517 for the first year. This would mean a $300,000 savings for Black Mountain in the first year.
Alderman Larry Harris suggested calling a special meeting to discuss the plan in more detail.
“It’s hard to delay this decision that seems somewhat inevitable,” Harris said.
Searching for a replacement
A seat has opened on the Black Mountain Board of Aldermen following the death of Carlos Showers. Because Black Mountain’s charter does not allow for the seat to be left vacant or for a special election to be called, the board must fill the seat.
Though it has not been done in Black Mountain before, Vice Mayor Maggie Tuttle suggested the idea of a notice of interest. This notice would allow those who are interested in filling the position to let the board know of their interest. Tuttle said she came up with the idea after hearing of similar methods in Maggie Valley and Mills River.
Alderman Ryan Stone said the notice of interest would allow for more transparency.
“I just think we’re in a unique time where people are asking for more transparency and they’re asking for more avenues to make themselves known,” Stone said. “I just think this is another tool for that.”
The board will be accepting these notices until Feb. 24 but will not restrict an applicant if submitted after this date.