Four members of the five-person board of directors voted in favor of allowing interim General Manager Gabe Karam to seek a request for proposals to set up traffic and safety cameras. Director Jim Lamb was absent from the Aug. 13 meeting.
According to Karam, the cameras would be installed at the six entry points to the community, including Mountain House Parkway and Kelso Road.
He said the RFP would be to determine the cost of each camera, installation, implementation and maintenance.
Director Celeste Farron questioned both the initial cost for the staff to prepare the RFP and evaluate bids, as well as the estimated cost of the program, which she cited as $100,000. Karam told her it could cost as much as $200,000, but the RFP had already been drafted at no additional cost to the community.
“It’s ready to go,” Karam said. “There is no additional cost other than mailing it or emailing it to consultants. If it comes back way too high, then I’ll present it to you.”
He said it would take about a day for staff members to review bids.
“Though we need and desire certain things in this community, we have to weigh cost to quality of service,” Farron said. “This is an extreme cost to me.”
Director Andy Su expressed skepticism about the usefulness of cameras against crime. He reminded the rest of the board that there were already cameras in a gazebo at Wicklund Park to deter vandals and said that the last time he visited, the cameras had been painted over.
“If we’re spending $30,000 per camera, I hope it is somewhere that is very difficult (to reach),” he said. “I would like to see more and more data. I think we have to have stuff backing it up.”
The per-camera estimate of $30,000 was based on the overall cost being around $200,000, Karam said. He said that figure came from an engineers’ estimate.
Karam said similar cameras were used in the city of Ripon to monitor suspicious vehicles.
“When a suspicious vehicle enters the city, they run the license plate,” Karam said. “It is such an amazing tool.”
“We want to go out and explore what the technology exists out there,” he said. “How can it help us? It will really save in the long run.”
Unlike Ripon, which monitors its cameras around the clock, Karam said that Mountain House would keep camera recordings to be reviewed by law enforcement if a crime should occur.
If the board were to accept a bid in response to the RFP, the funds to set up and maintain traffic and safety cameras would have to be appropriated from the Special Tax Fund for roads.
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