Sumter County BOC approves Sheriff Bryant’s request to fund the installation of two cameras to combat crime in Sumter County
Published 11:35 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023
AMERICUS – Back on Wednesday, February 15, Sumter County Sheriff Eric Bryant addressed the Sumter County Board of Commissioners (BOC) at its monthly work session and asked the BOC to consider allowing for the funding of the installation of four cameras in areas throughout the county to help combat crime in light of the recent shootings that have plagued the city of Americus and the county.
At that work session, Bryant also left the BOC with information about these cameras and how they would assist the sheriff’s office in fighting crime in the county.
At the BOC’s regular meeting on Tuesday, February 21, Sheriff Bryant, realizing that the funds were not available for the installation of four cameras, asked the BOC to approve the funding for the installation of two cameras in certain areas of the county for the purpose of combatting crime.
“We are back tonight to answer any questions that you may have and we’re also requesting tonight that we allow our finance department to be the fiscal agent in utilizing those funds to make those purchases,” Bryant told the BOC. The “funds” that Bryant was referring to are the funds that were made from tickets that were dispensed to drivers that were caught committing traffic violations by the cameras that have already been installed in certain school zones around the county. Bryant went on to say that as of Tuesday, February 21, there aren’t enough funds to cover the purchasing of four cameras, but that he would like to be able to use these funds to purchase two cameras so that they can be installed in certain areas of the county.
Commissioner David Baldwin asked Bryant if there were around 350 citations issued and tickets mailed out, but that the county has not received the funds from those citations. Bryant answered Baldwin in the affirmative that those citations were meted out, but that the county has not yet received the funds from those citations. “We go through receiving money from the traffic cameras on a daily basis,” Bryant said. “The system usually comes in sometimes daily where you may get 10 or 15 violations and sometimes, it comes in in bulk, so there are still revenues to be received even as of today,” Bryant continued.
Baldwin asked Bryant whether or not the installation of these four cameras would cost $12,000.00 and Bryant replied, “That is correct.” Baldwin then asked Bryant whether or not the money brought in from those 350 citations would amount to $26,000.00 and Bryant replied that if they are all paid and not contested, that would be correct.
Baldwin then asked his fellow Commissioners why the BOC shouldn’t approve the funding for the installment of all four cameras because in his opinion, the revenue needed to purchase and install the cameras would eventually come in by way of the 350 citations. However, Bryant did add that he and his department would much rather move with the money that is already in the bank at the moment. “I wouldn’t want to make a purchase based on funding that we don’t have secured in this bank as of today because we can easily go back and purchase those cameras on an as needed basis, or as funding comes in and that’s why we only make that recommendation,” Bryant said. “We do anticipate plenty of revenue to cover the cost of those systems.”
Bryant went on to say that once the sheriff’s office invests in one of these systems, they would be able to partner with law enforcement in neighboring counties that have already invested in these camera systems just to see the magnitude of how these systems work.
Commissioner Baldwin told Board Chairman Mark Waddell that he wanted to make a motion to approve the funding for the installation of two of the four cameras. Commissioner Jesse Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the motion to approve passed unanimously.
In other news from the regular meeting, the BOC unanimously approved the Correctional Services Agreement between the Southwestern Judicial Circuit Misdemeanor Probation Department and the State Court of Sumter County. Commissioner Jones made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion.
In a related issue, the BOC also unanimously approved the Correctional Services Agreement between the Southwestern Judicial Circuit Misdemeanor Probation Department and the Superior Court of Sumter County. Commissioner Jones made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion.
The BOC also voted unanimously to approve the application of Golden Triangle RC&D Grants in 2023. This grant would be for the Sumter County Fire Department in the amount of $2,000.00 and a Community Grant Award in the amount of $1,000.00. Commissioner Smith made a motion to approve the Fire Department Grant in the amount of $2,000.00 and Commissioner Jones seconded the motion. Commissioner Smith then made a motion to approve the Community Grant Award in the amount of $1,000.00 and Commissioner Jones seconded the motion.
Alicia Ledbetter, representing the One Sumter Economic Development Foundation, made a presentation before the BOC asking it for its support in building a pedestrian bridge that would connect South Georgia Technical College with Sumter County High School, more specifically the Ignite College and Career Academy. Ledbetter stated that One Sumter has been applying diligently for the planning grant. She stated that One Sumter has already spent $12,000.00 in the planning stages of this project and was told that One Sumter is not an eligible applicant because it is a non-profit entity. Ledbetter went on to request that One Sumter be allowed to list the BOC as the applicant so that this “much needed project” can be continued.
“The pedestrian bridge will allow for safe pedestrian crossing and, as all of y’all know, it’s also going to be the truck bypass route so we only see more and more traffic congestion coming out of this,” Ledbetter said. “It can also provide benefits for the workforce development, educational opportunities. That’s why I’m here tonight,” she continued.
Waddell asked Ledbetter if she had any paper work the BOC could look at and review and asked her if One Sumter is asking for funds. Ledbetter replied that the federal funds will cover 80 percent of the money needed to complete the project, but added that she was not sure where the other 20 percent of the funds would come from.
“Our contractors have been telling me that we can be very creative with this,” Ledbetter said. “It’s not just us, but other entities that are involved and using staff time as part of that compensation and we’re also willing to explore other avenues.”
Waddell replied that this project is something that the BOC can definitely take a look at and review and Commissioner Jones stated to Ledbetter that he realizes she would like for them to pass some sort of approval right then and there and asked Ledbetter what her deadline is. Ledbetter replied that One Sumter’s deadline is next Tuesday. Ledbetter reiterated to the BOC that One Sumter is in the planning stages of this project and that the entity is applying for the Capital Grant. She went on to say that she thinks that the planning portion will be a maximum of $1.6 million dollars that One Sumter will be asking for. “This is going to be two versions of the bridge,” Ledbetter said, “We’re shooting for the Cadillac version and the second version is more realistic. Cadillac would be more like what Macon-Bibb have and then a realistic is more like Albany Tech, so we’re getting two different types of budget, total budget costs, but we’re going to shoot for the pie in the sky,” Ledbetter continued.
Waddell stated that not knowing what they were looking at, the BOC did not want to commit itself. Commissioner Jones asked Ledbetter if One Sumter could get the BOC something it could look at in the next couple of days so that it could review it and she agreed to provide the Commissioners with that information.