|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - November 2009
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Car, computer software sought by sheriff’s office
Trinity Standard - November 2009
GROVETON – The purchase of a new car and a case management software system for the Trinity County Sheriff’s Department was put on hold Monday, Oct. 12, by commissioners concerned over a tight 2009 budget.
While the purchase of the car is scheduled to proceeds after a bit of negotiating, commissioners wanted more time to consider the computer software system asked for by Sheriff Ralph Montemayor.
During Monday’s meeting of the commissioners, Montemayor asked for the new car for use by the county’s new mental health officer, Melony Murray, who joined the sheriff’s department last week.
Montemayor noted the county recently was awarded a $50,000 grant to fund the mental health deputy’s position but that she needed a patrol car in which she could transport people who are detained on mental health warrants.
The car sought by the sheriff is a 2009 Crown Victoria now located on the Philpott Ford lot in Nederland. When the radio, overhead lights, decals and prisoner cage are included, the cost was listed at $32,662.
County Auditor Sheila Johnson said the county has about $18,000 in a justice assistance grant that could be used for the purchase, but the county would have to cover the rest of the expense.
Although absent due to a family emergency from the first part of Monday’s meeting, County Judge Mark Evans said upon his arrival that he felt they could get the final cost for the vehicle down to $30,000.
He noted that the county purchased two police-package Crown Victoria patrol cars from the same dealer earlier this year at a lower price.
In addition, he said the cost of the radio could be covered through the county’s Homeland Security grant.
“We were fortunate enough to receive a $50,000 grant for the mental health office and we do need to provide her with a car,” Evans said. “I do think we can get the cost down a little bit, however.
“I don’t know why they are asking more for a car at the end of the model year than we paid for two of them earlier,” he added.
Commissioners authorized Evans, Johnson and Montemayor to negotiate the best deal possible and to purchase the car for a maximum of $30,000.
Computer program eyed
In related action, commissioners tabled until November a request from the sheriff to purchase new case management software.
Montemayor recommended a package offered by Information Technologies of St. Louis, Mo., which would cost an initial, one-time set up and training charge of $1,072 plus a monthly fee of $590.
The sheriff told commissioners he was asking for the new system because the current program, which was installed in January, was not meeting the needs of the department.
“Its not what you could call ‘user friendly’,” Montemayor said. “Its slow and it doesn’t keep all of the information we need.”
The system now in use was purchased outright by the county last year and Johnson told commissioners they still owed two more annual payments to cover the loan received to purchase it and additional computer hardware.
Montemayor, who was appointed as sheriff in December 2008, said the system was purchased prior to his taking office and he regretted having to ask the county to replace it after using it less than a year.
“It’s just not working out for us. The dispatchers, jailers and deputies are having a very hard time trying to make it work,” he said.
“This court has always been very willing to allow the sheriff to get whatever software system he needs, but through an unfortunate series of events and tragedies, we had four sheriffs in 18 months,” Evans noted.
The judge said that due to the expense involved – particularly during the current “tight county budget” – they need to be sure a system is purchased that will meet the sheriff’s department needs for some time to come.
The commissioners agreed to table the matter and to allow Evans, Johnson and Montemayor to study the available programs and finances and make a recommendation on what should be done.
Storage site leased
In other action relating to the sheriff’s department, commissioners agreed to lease property adjacent to the Precinct 1 Road and Bridge Department barn near Groveton as a storage lot for large items seized by the sheriff’s department.
The property is owned by Citizens Bank, which has agreed to lease it to the county for $1 per year. The county would have to cover the cost of surveying the site and installing a fence.
Montemayor noted in recent months, county officers have seized a number of travel trailers, trailers, motor homes, vehicles and other large items that are currently stored next to the Trinity County Jail in Groveton.
He added that besides running out of space, the stored items would detract from the appearance of the Trinity County Courthouse, which is now under renovation.
During the meeting, commissioners also:
• Learned that during September, County Clerk Diane McCrory collected $31,000 in fines and fees – a new record for the office. “Normally, we bring in between $20,000 and $22,000 but we had a very good month,” she told commissioners. Most of the increase was due to the sale of copies of land records purchased by oil and gas company land agents.
• Received a revised FY 2008 audit report from Trinity CPA Thomas Ramey. Ramey noted that when the audit was presented to commissioners this past summer, his office inadvertently printed it from a draft copy rather than from the final, corrected report.
“There were a couple of glaring errors in the draft, which had been corrected in the final version,” he said. “I apologize for this mistake, but this (revised) report is the version that should have been approved earlier.”
• Discussed but took no action on adopting an order prohibiting the discharge of firearms in rural residential neighborhoods. County Attorney Joe Bell noted there are already a number of state laws which address the matter but said the county could adopt a specific order on the issue. He added he remembers such an order being adopted a number of years ago but it could not be located in the county’s records.
Evans indicated he is not opposed to adopting a firearms order but would prefer to do it on a subdivision-by-subdivision bases at the request of property owners associations