By Nick Worth
The Holbrook City Council approved naming EDCS, Inc. as sole source provider for the city’s telemetry system during their regular meeting Tuesday evening. In attendance were Mayor Jeff Hill, Vice Mayor Charles Haussman and Councilmen Myron Maxwell, Richard Peterson, Wade Carlisle and Phil Cobb.
The telemetry system has been in use by the city for the past 14 to 15 years, according to City Manager Ray Alley. It is used to control the water well pumps on McLaws Road via computer from the water department office.
“With the completion of our new water well number seven, we have no telemetry on that well,” said Alley. He said someone has to go to the well site to manually turn the pump on or off.
“I don’t want to change it. It’s not broken,” said Alley. He said the system has been very reliable, but that the technology has advanced so far in the past 15 years that in order to put the telemetry system on the new well, the other wells would also have to be upgraded.
Alley told the council the cost would be $55,662.80 to make the needed water control system repairs, up-grades and the addition of Well No. 7, and to add a wireless data network for telemetry and video surveillance.
“What it would allow us to do is to put cameras at every entrance into town,” said Alley. He said the cam-eras would run 24 hours per day.
“I don’t know how long we would keep the data before we purge it, but that’s the backbone that will allow us to spend another, up to potentially $50,000, to put in wireless cameras throughout the community,” said Al-ley.
“Each entrance to town would have one so that anybody who comes in or out of town, we’d be able to re-cord their license plate,” said Alley. He noted that if a violent crime or robbery occurred and the suspects were known to have left town, the camera records could then be checked and the license number found.
Alley presented the council with his “wish list” of stationary and Pan Tilt and Zoom (PTZ) cameras, and their proposed locations. The list calls for stationary cameras at Chevron, Hermosa, Midtown North, Midtown South, Navajo and Florida, Navajo and Hopi, Navajo and the BNSF Railroad tracks, and two cameras at Hopi and Seventh and Eighth Avenues, and Buffalo and Eighth Avenue.
The list calls for PTZ cameras at Chevron, Lisitzky Park, the Hunt Park, Navajo and Hopi, Well No. 4, Buffalo and Eighth Avenue, the dog park and the police trailer.
The cost of the cameras is $1,799 for the stationary units and $3,999 for the PTZ models. The total cost, as outlined in a letter from EDCS, would be $55,379 and would include six months of 24/7 support, after which the ongoing support would cost the city $500 per month.
“It’s an exciting program,” said Alley. “All of the cameras we proposed, that will be on a future agenda, will be on public rights-of-way, so it’s not like we’ll be looking down on everybody’s back yard.
“We’re not trying to be Big Brother, but I guess in fact we are, because I envision going one step further and on every entrance to town I’d like to put a sign that reads, ‘For your protection this city is monitored 24/7 by video surveillance,’” said Alley.
He added the cameras could help stop graffiti and vandalism, and that local businesses might also buy cam-eras and connect them to the city network.
Carlisle told the council he had thought about the issue of surveillance cameras.
“Before you do this video surveillance, I’d like to see a policy for video surveillance, use and storage of the data, private versus public domain, public access to the data,” Carlisle said. “I think all that needs to be in place before we vote to go through with video surveillance.
“I’d like to know exactly how the data will be used, how it’s going to be accessed, who has it,” Carlisle said. “Where are those lines that you cross to looking in the window of a person’s house? I think we need to have a policy in place for the potential abuse of this.”
Hill said because the video surveillance would be considered to be invasive, he wanted to urge the council to be careful and to have a “very public” work session.
“There will be people who will be very concerned,” Hill said. “I do want the public to have a say and with policies in place.”
Alley said he would check with the City of Phoenix and some other areas that use video surveillance to get information on their policies. He also said he would ask the chief of police to work up the policy.
The council then approved EDCS to be the sole source provider for the telemetry system.
In other business, the council:
* Extended thanks to the volunteers who came out for the city cleanup on Sept 7 and 8.
* Heard a report from Alley on the cleaning of the city sewer lines. So far 2,300 feet of line has been cleaned, starting with the problem areas where backups have occurred in the past. Alley said there is approximately 15 miles left to go.
* Heard a report from Alley on the status of the ongoing paving projects.
* Heard a report from Alley on the cleaning up of some eyesores in the city, including an abandoned trailer, some businesses with a lot of cars in front of them and the old Food Mart store on West Hopi Drive.
* Heard a report from Assistant City Manager Randy Sullivan that Laron, Inc. installed variable frequency drives on the 60 hp pump motors at the wastewater treatment plant.
* Heard a report from Librarian Wendy Skevington on the new media bank, which stores the city’s collection of DVDs, CD Roms and music CDs. The media bank is the second one in operation in Arizona. There will be an unveiling of the system from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11.
* Approved an ordinance authorizing an easement from Randy and Lisa Johnson for the purpose of a sewer line, and entering into an agreement for grazing rights on city property located adjacent to their land.
* At the suggestion of Carlisle, the council tabled the approval of the lease agreement until such time as language could be added addressing what would happen to the lease agreement if the Johnsons or their heirs were to subdivide and sell their property. Also, the length of the lease was changed from 50 years to such time as the city decides to terminate the sewer line easement.
* Decided against renewing an agreement with Albert Holler and Associates for sales tax auditing.
Sullivan told the council the contract with the firm has brought in a lot of money in overdue sales taxes, but that it has gotten to the point where it is no longer cost effective. Sullivan said last year the city paid Holler and Associates $24,000 and the firm recovered $26,833. He noted that he, Alley and City Clerk Cher Reyes are able to track the sales taxes due.
Sullivan said the firm has gathered “several hundred thousand dollars” for the city over the years the con-tract has been in effect, but noted the returns have started to dwindle.
“I don’t think the payback is there for the next couple of years,” said Sullivan. He recommended the council revisit the agreement in a year or two.
* Renewed a lease agreement with Operation 29-11 for use of a building on the old Northland Pioneer College campus on East Hermosa Drive.
* Discussed the idea of reimbursing city employees for the use of their cell phones as a replacement for handheld radios.
Alley said the radios are due to be switched to a digital format and will be expensive to replace.
“We don’t have a choice with the police and fire departments, but the public works employees could use their cell phones instead of radios,” Alley said.
“I want to see some hard numbers on the cost,” said Haussman. He also pointed out that if a public records request were ever made, then the employees’ private cell phone records would be made public.
The item was tabled for further discussion at the next regular council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 16.
* Proclaimed September to be Recovery Month, supporting those who have chosen the path of recovery from mental health and substance abuse disorders.
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By Nick Worth