Douglas County seeks alternate source for body cam funding
A proposal to raise the 911 surcharge from 25 cents to $1 is the last method Douglas County should use to raise money for body cameras, commissioners and sheriff’s officials agreed on Thursday.
The county has already budgeted to implement body cameras as mandated by the Nevada Legislature in the last session.
“They did mandate that all uniformed officers must wear the device,” Undersheriff Paul Howell said. “That means we need to issue a camera to every person interacting with the public.”
The legislation allows counties to increase their 911 surcharge from 25 cents to $1.
Howell said requests for proposal for a vendor for the cameras are due July 14. The county has already budgeted $241,200 to implement the cameras and $152,200 to maintain them.
He said he anticipates hiring a person to operate the system.
Sheriff Ron Pierini said increasing the surcharge would translate into $9 a year per cell phone.
Complicating the issue is that the 25-cent surcharge does not fully fund Douglas County’s emergency 911.
“The 25-cent surcharge doesn’t fund the 911 system from the very beginning,” 911 Manager Ron Sagen said. “It doesn’t fund the current system and it certainly won’t support the body cam system either.”
Sagen said the fee raises $127,000 but just the 911 telephone system alone costs $174,000.
Commission Chairman Barry Penzel asked staff members to come up with additional ways to fund the system.
“I’m making the proposal that we investigate the use of indigent funds before we go and tack on a tax on all the law-abiding citizens to pay for something that some of the indigent people bring upon themselves,” he said. “I realize not all of the folks charged with crimes are indigents. But certainly that could defray some of the costs.”
Commissioner Steve Thaler suggested that the county work to roll the costs into the general fund. Howell agreed.
“It’s always good to find money in general fund before going to taxpayers,” he said.
Commissioner Dave Nelson said he would like to see if the fees could be included in traffic ticket fees
“People who break the law should be paying for some of this,” he said.