Board OKs money for computers
Published 11:16 am Tuesday, June 21, 2016
The Vicksburg Police Department is getting some new computers and cameras for police cards after the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the withdrawal of more than $100,000 from a special state Department of Public Safety account for the city.
Under the board’s action, the city will take $117,001 from the account, which Police Chief Walter Armstrong said will be used to purchase laptop computers for investigators, crime scene technicians and himself and deputy chiefs Bobby Stewart and Johnnie Edwards, and replace the remaining I-cop in-car cameras, which have become out-of-date.
City IT technician Bill Ford said the city’s DPS account is composed of $10 fees collected as part of the fine for traffic violations. He said the money goes to DPS, where it is kept in a special account for the city and the money is used for police equipment.
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But Ford said the account will be transferred to the state’s general fund July 1 as part of a measure approved by the Legislature to boost the state budget, and no provisions have been made to enable to city to get more money in the future.
“We need to get this money and use it before the deadline, or we won’t be able to use it,” Ford said.
Mayor George Flaggs Jr., however, said he did not believe in withdrawing money “because we may lose it.”
Flaggs, a former legislator, said the state has moved money from other accounts to the general fund in the past to shore up the budget, adding, “I’m sure there’s going to be a special session. If not, there’s going to be an agreement where this money is going to be replaced to these agencies.
“The state has no intention to hurt these agencies, … It’s just a means to balance the budget.”
Flaggs said he would not criticize the Legislature’s budget process “because I understand it. I believe the funds will be replenished.”
“It’s unfortunate,” he said, “Because I don’t like this when you run and spend money to usurp the law.”
Ford said the projects for the money were planned.
“We actually were were going to wait until we got a bit more money, probably in the fall, to do it,” he said. “But we needed to move quickly on this.”
Flaggs said he would go along with getting the money, “but I stand behind the state and its methods in which they pull the budget.”