SUNSET BEACH, NC (WECT) – The debate over safety concerns in the Sunset Beach area continued Tuesday, when town leaders held a meeting to voice their concerns and discuss possible solutions. But it seems that some town leaders just don't see eye-to-eye.
There has been an increased level of concern this year after four drowning along Brunswick County beaches this summer, including two in Sunset Beach.
When it comes to making decisions about how to improve beach safety, the mayor and town council members in Sunset Beach disagree.
"We need lifeguards and we need a riptide warning system," said Mayor Rich Cerrato. "Other counties have lifeguards, they do it and we should too."
Lou Devita is the Mayor Pro-Tem of Sunset Beach. He says he's not opposed to the idea of hiring lifeguards, but he does have concerns.
"Lifeguards are kind of a double edge sword. There's an added expense to it and it increases liability," said Devita. "There's no guarantee that lifeguards will prevent a drowning."
Devita says the mayor has been putting a lot of pressure on the council.
"The mayor continues to try to force the council into a position by using the media to voice his opinion - which is really just his opinion," said Devita. "But the council has to be the one to make a decision for the town."
We asked Mayor Cerrato if this issue is drawing a divide between him and the rest of council. He responded, "Unfortunately, there's been a tradition of that ever since I became the mayor."
The budget for next year has already been set, so no major decisions are expected anytime soon.
In the end, council decided it was best for everyone to go home and make a list of all their beach safety concerns. They plan to gather input from the public as well.
Town leaders will prioritize their list of safety concerns and re-visit this issue at their next meeting in September.
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