Jefferson County held a budget workshop Aug. 19 to discuss items to add to the county’s 2013-2014 proposed budget, which is scheduled to be adopted Sept. 23.
Among the items discussed were new in-car video cameras for Jefferson County constables.
The proposed budget includes a total of 14 new cameras — five units for Precinct No.1, three units for Precinct No. 2, three for Precinct No. 6 and three for Precinct No. 8.
Commissioners approved the addition of the item to the proposed budget.
“These items, if in the final adopted budget, would be available for purchase anytime after Oct. 1,” said Jefferson County financial manager Fran Lee. “Several (constables) have cameras but they’re the old VHS models. They were wanting to go to something more updated.”
The new cameras included in the proposed budget are priced at $2,000 per unit and would be purchased from 10-8 Video Digital Evidence Solutions out of Fayetteville, Tenn. They include the following specifications:
• User-defined pre/post event recording
• No moving parts for reliability
• Up to 64 GB of total storage
• Two camera systems with simultaneous recording
• Automatic and manual activation
• Built-in GPS & G-sensors
“They’ll be able to have a camera on the road in front of the officer as well as an interior camera watching the persons in the back seat,” said Kyle Ragsdale, sales manager for 10-8 Video. “This is mainly for the officers’ safety as well as for civilians’ safety. It holds everybody accountable for their actions. There’s audio inside the car and outside the car. Anything that is said or done will be on video. The county chose the UHF microphone, which is the cheaper option but is still a very viable microphone with a 300-400 feet useable range. Also, when they play back the video, it will play back both the front and rear video simultaneously as well as a Google map with an overlay of where the officer’s vehicle was and how fast he was going in conjunction with that video.”
Jefferson County will be saving $58,192 by choosing the 10-8 cameras over the cameras originally proposed by constables, according to Jefferson County purchasing agent Deborah Syphrett-Clark. The cameras originally proposed were between $4,600 and $5,500 apiece and did not include a server that would have had to been purchased if that model of camera were chosen, she said.
“I chose the models because they were more economically feasible,” Clark said. “They run off a SIM card, which can be removed and uploaded to a computer instead of having a network system. The other cameras require a server.”
In addition to being a cheaper option, the SIM-card format has security advantages as well, Ragsdale said.
“It’s a controlled situation,” Ragsdale said. “The file that it records to is on an SD card and is in a proprietary format so there is no third-party software that can edit the video.”
The proposed budget also includes a 2 percent increase in salary for all union and non-union employees for a total of $134,525 in total salary increases, according to a “salary increases, re-class and additions report” included in the proposed budget packet. Ford Park requested a total of $2,605,251 in the proposed 2013-2014 budget, according to the packet.
Employee health insurance, one of the few remaining items still up for discussion on the proposed budget, will be discussed at the next budget workshop Monday, Aug. 22, Lee said.
“We’re still making decisions, but as of right now, we’ve cut a little over $3.2 million out of the department requests,” she said.
The proposed budget must go through a public hearing Sept. 23 before it is adopted.
Also included in the proposed budget is the county’s decision to maintain the current tax rate of 0.365000 instead of increasing the rate to match the effective tax rate of 0.369436, Lee said.