CC Notes – March 9th 2017
A few weeks ago, I was contacted to discuss some of the new, innovative safety devices that are now available to help improve the safety in our schools. I contacted Commissioner Wilson, the Chairman of the Schools and Education Committee, and asked about having a meeting concerning school safety. Last night, March 8, 2018, at 4:30 PM, we had that meeting at the Board of Education’s Central Office.
The school locks and other devices were a topic for discussion. The staff at the Central Office is looking in to the various devices to see which could be the most help for our schools. We will get a report on those items in a future meeting.
You may recall that the County agreed to fund four SROs for the school system a few years ago. Those four officers are stationed across eight elementary schools, with each officer responsible for two schools. I have long supported an SRO in each school and it is time to make sure that happens. In addition to the protection they provide, SROs also form relationships with the students and become mentors to many. These relationships are important as these officers serve as a much-needed positive role model in the lives of ours students.
Many questions were asked at the meeting, but the one that seemed the most prevalent was, “What is the life of a child worth?” I asked several questions during the meeting, and found that the new Crab Orchard building has been designed with school safety in mind. Startup costs for the SRO program are estimated to be up to $350,000, including salaries, in the first year. Annual recurring costs come in at around $200,000. After much discussion, a motion was unanimously approved to send a request to the Budget Committee to fund four new SROs in this year’s current budget.
I’ve been the Chairman of the Debt Management Committee since it was created back in 2011. I have also been a member of the Budget Committee since 2012, and I am currently the Chairman of that committee. Since I have been on the Commission, we have made moves that have saved the county taxpayers approximately $20 million in interest on our bonds. Just a few months ago, due to good, conservative management and stewardship of our finances, we made another move to retire approximately $1 million in debt.
As soon as Sheriff Cox answered my question about recurring costs, I knew that the amount needed was just over the amount that a penny of property tax brings in. Care to guess how much was freed up by paying off that $1 million in debt? Approximately one penny. With the approval of the Budget Committee and the full Commission, we can do this with the funding we have in place.
Thank you for allowing me to serve the 4th District and Cumberland County. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at any time.
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Board of Commissioners
4th District Representative