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Board spends $68K on public safety cameras

Vehicles bought to maintain ‘reliable fleet’

POSTED: January 25, 2009 12:20 a.m.

JEFFERSON — If some sort of emergency occurred at the Jackson County Courthouse, the expenditures commissioners approved Monday would help authorities handle the situation.

The commission voted 4-0 to approve spending $68,000 to purchase video surveillance equipment for the county courthouse. The courthouse already has such a system but has encountered problems with the technology that need to be addressed.

“Presently, the system is in such disrepair that it’s failing regularly,” said Justin King, the county’s director of information technology.

King also pointed out the current system doesn’t have any “redundant capabilities” to allow backup systems to kick in and continue recording video when parts fail.

“The cameras failing is a liability issue,” he said. “You don’t want something to happen and have the cameras not work.”

Commissioner Dwain Smith said he agreed that the technology failing was an issue, but expressed concern about spending thousands of dollars so early into 2009.

“Have we got the dollars extra this early in the year that we can commit $68,000?” he asked.

Finance Director John Hulsey said the money for the equipment would be taken out of the county’s contingency fund. The fund has $486,000 now and would drop to $418,000 with the technology expenditure, Hulsey said.

Commission Chairman Hunter Bicknell agreed that the board didn’t want to spend that much money so quickly, but said the expenditure was necessary.

“None of us want a situation like they had in Fulton County two or three years ago,” Bicknell said in reference to the 2005 shooting at Fulton County Courthouse that killed a sheriff’s deputy, a judge and a stenographer.
In another public safety move, commissioners approved a $575,000 expenditure to lease 20 police interceptor vehicles to replace cars from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. The purchase had already been approved in the fiscal year 2009 budget.

According to supplemental agenda documents, the expenditure came before the board because “it is imperative that we maintain a dependable and reliable fleet of sheriff’s vehicles to respond to the public safety needs of our citizenry and to reduce the county’s repair and maintenance expenditures that result with an aged fleet.”

The board’s approval of the vehicles’ lease also falls in line with the county’s fleet policy, which “specifies certain replacement mileage thresholds” for the county to follow to have a working fleet of vehicles for various departments.

The older vehicles will be serviced and either redistributed to another department or declared as surplus and sold at GovDeals.com, according to county documents. Money received for those sold will be reinvested into the vehicle replacement fund.



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