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New Wake County Commission Sends Clear Message

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RALEIGH — The balance of power has shifted in the Wake County Board of Commissioners. And the new commission is wasting no time in implementing some changes.

For the past four years, the board has been split 4-3, with Republicans being the majority party. Starting Monday, the board is 6-1, with Democrats clearly in the majority. The new board wasted no time reversing a huge vote ona controversial 911 center.

Barely an hour after she was sworn in, new Commissioner Linda Coleman moved to terminate the county's $27 million contract for a new emergency communications system -- a system the board's prior Republican majority had voted in just before leaving office.

The new board, after a short discussion, voted unanimously in favor of Coleman's motion, and cancelled the contract with Motorola.

Some emergency workers are not pleased. "I just can't believe that this county...after having a $46 million fund balance, and having appropriated $15 million for all these activities, that to say that they can't afford this is absolute irresponsibility," said George Mills, chief of the Bay Leaf Volunteer Fire Department.

Mills and a number of other emergency personnel were all shaking their heads in the back of the room when this decision came down.

There should be considerable penalties that the county is going to have to pay for cancelling this contract - $1.5 million or more.

The board also elected Vernon Malone the new chairman of the board of commissioners. Betty Lou Ward lost to Malone 4-3. Ward will be the vice chair of the county commissioners.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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