Though the budget process for the new fiscal year hasn’t really started for Grayson County, Commissioners committed to spending around $419,000 Tuesday for new cameras at the Grayson County Jail.


Sheriff Tom Watt told commissioners the change will mean the county will go from having 105 cameras at the jail to 165. He said they will also be switching over from analog to digital cameras. Grayson County Purchasing Agent Jeff Schneider said the project will be a multi-year task. This year, he explained, the county will work on getting the engineering for the project done so it can be approved by the jail commission. Then next year, Schneider said, the county will pay for the purchasing of the equipment and installation.


“Our current camera system comprises of about three different camera systems,” Schneider said. “One for the 80s edition, 90s, and 2000.”


He said they are all analog and “just kind of a hodgepodge that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.” Schneider explained the costs for the engineering will come out of the current jail budget’s commissary fund and then the commissioners would have to agree to pay for the rest of it out of next year’s budget.


The commissioners who were on hand Tuesday didn’t seem to balk at the price tag for the purchase of the camera software, equipment and installation. The purchase was approved by just three of the five person Commissioners Court, as Precinct 4 Commissioner Bart Lawrence and Precinct 3 Commissioner Phyllis James were absent from the meeting due to training.


It was the yearly maintenance fee that drew questions. That fee, Schneider said, would be around $68,000 to have the kind of 24-hour, seven-day a week response the county would need.


“If you spend $400,000, you wouldn’t think it would need much maintenance,” Whitlock said.


Whitlock then asked whether there were some other option and if the county could find someone to service the equipment for less than that if there were a breakdown. And, he wondered how much repairs or replacements might cost outside of the contract.


Schneider said he didn’t have answers to those questions, but he would look into it. After a good deal of discussion, the court decided to approve the engineering and commit to putting the cost for the cameras and installation into next year’s budget. They left the matter of the service fee out of that motion and it will be discussed again at a later date.