01/18/14 — Nearly $177,000 spent for commissioners room

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Nearly $177,000 spent for commissioners room

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 18, 2014 10:38 PM

Wayne County commissioners are spending nearly $177,000 to upgrade the lighting, cameras and sound system in their meeting room.

The equipment will be used to stream commissioners' meetings live on the Internet and to record them for the county's local government cable TV channel.

During a June 10, 2013 budget session, County Manager Lee Smith recommended $205,940 for the project, but the project was not discussed in detail at that time, nor has it been discussed since then.

Commissioners budgeted the money for the work and the Information Technology Department researched and headed up the project, said Steve Cross, the county's IT director.

The final cost will be $176,920.62, about $28,000 under budget, he said. The money is coming from the county budget's special projects fund for capital outlay equipment.

Items invoiced so far include $32,000 for video cameras, $22,000 for lighting fixtures and $23,000 for electric labor and conduit.

Ronco Specialized Systems of Charlotte was awarded the project and has done an "exceptional job" implementing and training on the new system, Cross said.

The improvements, he added, are 95 percent complete, with just minor adjustments remaining.

"Since the commissioners were invited to the Senior Center in December (to hold their meeting), we were able to get in the room earlier in December and begin the process," he said. "Aging and failing equipment -- cameras, lights, speakers and wiring -- was the impetus for the upgrade."

The room is also used as an alternate courtroom, he said.

"When it is used as a courtroom, video/audio recording may also be required depending on the circumstance," Cross said.

"Often it's used in Guardian Ad Litem proceedings, and I know they've used audio," added Barbara Arntsen, the county's public information officer. "The last time the video was used was sometime in November for some proceeding that Judge (Tim) Finan wanted filmed."

The IT Department also was responsible for last year's equipment updates for Courtroom No. 1, she said.

"It was determined (at that time) that changes would also be made to the alternate courtroom as the equipment was failing and the lighting/wiring had been patched/repaired too many times," she said. "Information Technologies is the only department allowed by state law to use the best value procurement."