Columbia willing to pay for 150 more security camera locations

cleblanc@thestate.comJune 16, 2014 

  • Other agenda items

    Here are other issues City Council will tackle at its Tuesday meetings:

    •  Cast the first of two votes on the city’s $283.2 million budget for 2014-15.

    •  Cast the first of two votes on a construction contract for a $35 million, publicly owned minor-league baseball stadium in the proposed Bull Street neighborhood.

    •  Discuss recommended allotments from an advisory committee of $2.4 million in meal-tax and hotel-tax revenue for next fiscal year. The citizens’ committee trimmed requests of $8.2 million from 90 applicants to $2.3 million.

    •  Cast a final vote on creation of child-protection zones in some city parks.

  • If you go

    Columbia City Council meets twice on Tuesday.

    When: 2 p.m. work session on meal and hotel taxes in a second-floor conference room at City Hall; and 6 p.m. council meeting in chambers on the third floor of City Hall.

    Where: Columbia City Hall, 1737 Main St. at Laurel Street.

The city of Columbia soon would have security cameras in 150 new locations under contract with the same company that operates most of the cameras already in entertainment districts and along North Main Street.

City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a $616,500 contract with Statewide Security Systems Inc. to place cameras along major corridors and city gateways.

The contract calls for the company to own, operate and maintain the cameras, some of which would have zoom capability and be able to pan a half circle to a full circle. But the city would own the images, unlike its current agreements with Statewide Security.

The locations of the cameras, some in four-camera boxes, have not been determined precisely, according to a June 13 memo to city manager Teresa Wilson.

The budget for surveillance cameras is up to $675,000 this fiscal year, which means a little bit of cash might remain. “The exact amount to be spent will be dependent on the actual features utilized at each location, therefore the exact number of cameras may increase or decrease based on the specifics,” the memo from the city’s purchasing agent states.

The source of funding is largely the city’s primary operating account, the general fund, at $575,000. The remaining $100,000 would come from Columbia’s $10 million in meal-tax revenue.

Columbia budget director Missy Caughman said council allocated $700,000 for cameras in the 2013-14 budget, but it has not been spent.

The new contract has extension provisions that would reach to five years for a total of $1.4 million.

Statewide Security was selected from among three other bidders because the city deemed it “the highest-ranked, responsive and responsible” bidder.

Initially, the city wanted to have 200 more cameras, but the budget would not cover that many, Sandra Wright, the purchasing agent on the contract, said.

Wright said the city is still working out the details of how many cameras would have zoom and panning features as well as the monitoring arrangement for the devices.

Statewide Security and the city have been concentrating camera locations in Five Points, Main Street and parts of North Main. Council has been under increasing pressure to install more cameras near neighborhoods.

However, statutory and constitutional controls hamper where cameras may be placed in residential areas.

Reach LeBlanc at (803) 771-8664.

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