‘Video Visitation’ requires mega $$$

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County jail forced to upgrade system

 

BAYBORO – No county official in his or her right mind wants to do anything that might jeopardize the cool $1 million-plus that Uncle Sam pays every year to reimburse the Pamlico County Jail for the temporary care and feeding of inmates charged with Federal crimes.


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So, when Pamlico County Sheriff Chris Davis (who oversees the jail in addition to his law enforcement duties) asked the County Commissioners on Monday night for a whopping $83,907 to install a state-of-the-art video visitation system, the board swallowed hard, unanimously approving the measure. The sophisticated equipment, software, and training comes from Black Creek Integrated Systems Corp, an Alabama-based firm. And, for the record, Black Creek’s sky-high proposal was actually the lowest bid received from three different vendors.

However, County Commissioner Paul Delamar III – who is up for reelection in November – pointed out that the huge expenditure (for which county savings must be tapped) is yet another example of an unfunded mandate imposed from up high by always well-meaning state and federal authorities.

With budget planning workshops looming for the new fiscal year, everyone in the room knew that spending like this in March will make holding the line on future property tax increases a difficult endeavor when that difficult decision comes in June.

In a pointed question – that needed no response — Delamar vented frustration: “That’s a half cent on the tax rate. State law requires us to do this, but the state has not yet sent us any money for it, am I right Sheriff Davis?”