Council to add school bus stop-arm cameras to budget


JASPER — The Dubois County Council has decided to move forward with a request from county school superintendents to provide funding for school bus stop-arm cameras.

The council approved Monday putting $13,200 in the 2021 budget — the budget will be discussed in August — for the cameras. The funds will come from the local income tax fund, and will pay for two cameras each for Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools and Southwest Dubois Schools, and one camera each for Northeast Dubois Schools and Southeast Dubois Schools.

The superintendents had originally approached the Dubois County Commissioners in February and said they were seeking about $22,000 to cover cameras for 12 buses in the county. At that point, the commissioners decided to recommend that the council reimburse the districts for the cameras and establish a safe school fund, which would collect funding through successful prosecution of stop-arm violations. That fund would then be available to pay for the cameras.

Later in February, the superintendents approached the council with the request and were told that the council would consider it, but they should also approach township officials to request help with funding.

According to County Council President Jerry Hunefeld, the superintendents got some support from townships and also from the Dubois County Community Foundation. So, their final request was for the county to fund six cameras instead of the original 12. Hunefeld said their request had merit since they sought funding from several different places.

Councilwoman Charmian Klem agreed and also said that as much as she doesn’t “want to start funding things for school districts, I know that the public wants [the stop-arm cameras]. So if we can meet that request of six, I think we should.”

Councilman Doug Uebelhor said the safety of kids is paramount, but he worried that funding something for schools would spur requests from other organizations. “I don’t think our budget can sustain that,” he said. “I worry we won’t be able to fund the other stuff we need to fund.”

The council ultimately voted to add the $13,200 request to the 2021 budget.

“It could come up for discussion again on budget day,” Hunefeld said of funding the stop-arm cameras. The council’s budget day is set for 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 10.

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