Council considers funding school bus stop-arm cameras

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

County officials are still considering funding for school bus stop-arm cameras.

The Dubois County Council will decide at its July 13 meeting if it will provide funding to help purchase the cameras.

“This is something that the public does want,” Councilwoman Charmian Klem said about the cameras.

In two weeks, cameras will be installed on 15 school buses in the county, Northeast Dubois Schools Superintendent Bill Hochgesang told the council Monday. The cost of those is being covered by the school districts, funding from the Dubois County Community Foundation and public donations, he said.

Hochgesang has been spokesman on behalf of all the county’s superintendents in asking the county to set up a fund that would collect fines that are paid for school bus arm violations; the money collected in the fund would then be used for cameras.

The superintendents have also asked the county to contribute in the costs for getting cameras installed on the 88 school buses that run in the county. Council members told the superintendents in February to also ask township trustees and municipalities to contribute.

Township trustees are supporting, Hochgesang said Monday. Trustees are willing to outfit 15 or 16 buses with cameras, but want to do that next year, to get the funding from their 2021 budgets, he said. Some trustees have also asked for more information, he said.

Since he is not the superintendent whose district is in a municipality, Hochgesang has not approached any of the cities or towns for funding, he explained.

It costs $1,800 to purchase a camera and about $400 to install the camera, Hochgesang said.

At the end of the meeting, council members talked about their feelings on the request. And while all council members agreed that the cameras are needed, they weren’t sure if the county should help pay for them. Councilman Doug Uebelhor said he has talked to other school districts that have the cameras, and those districts paid for the costs themselves.

Councilman Mike Kluesner is concerned about the possible ongoing cost, especially since the county’s future revenue amounts are uncertain. “Our loss of revenue is a big concern,” he said. He added that there’s no guarantee that violators who are fined will pay the fines.

President Jerry Hunefeld said he feels the county should contribute. “I just think it would be beneficial for everybody to be a part of it,” he said. “If the townships are willing to contribute, the county should also contribute; we should be a part of that.”

The council will continue discussing the matter at its next meeting, which will be at 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 13, in the commissioners/council room, on the second floor of the Dubois County Courthouse Annex, 602 Main St., Jasper.




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