BV council accepts grant to purchase police cars

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

By Samantha Jones

The Berryville Police Department is expanding its vehicle fleet.

On Tuesday night, Berryville City Council voted to approve a resolution allowing the city to accept a grant to purchase two new police cars. Mayor Tim McKinney said the city heard about the grant in July and immediately began working on the application. The grant is through the USDA Rural Development, McKinney said, and provides 55 percent of the funds for the vehicles.

“We’ll supply 45 percent of the funds,” McKinney said, “so we’re basically getting two cars for the price of one.”

It costs about $90,000 for both cars, McKinney said, once you factor in how much it costs to add equipment. Berryville Police Chief Robert Bartos said it costs about $15,000 to rig the vehicles with cameras and radios.

“It’s expensive,” Bartos said.

The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution and McKinney said the new vehicles will help the police department improve its vehicle fleet.

“Once we get all these vehicles in there, there will be a vehicle assigned to each officer,” McKinney said. “They’ll be responsible for those vehicles. This will get us up in good shape on our fleet.”

Also at the meeting, the council heard about a proposed information technology service agreement with McKinney said administrative assistant Jay Lee has been working hard on the agreement, saying it’s important to address cyber-security concerns.

“You know cyber-security has been getting to be more and more of an issue,” McKinney said.

He was recently in an audit meeting, McKinney said, where he learned some cities have paid ransom to get their information back from hackers.

“People don’t realize how many places are having to pay ransom to get their information back,” McKinney said, “because they don’t publicize it.”

Lee agreed.

“We always have our anti-virus protection, but that’s not much protection anymore in today’s world,” Lee said.

The agreement is with a local man, Lee said, who offers real-time monitoring of the city’s technology system.

“He’ll be able to log into our router here at the city hall off-site remotely,” Lee said, “and monitor things and make sure that nothing looks bad.”

Alderwoman Cindy George asked if the agreement would apply to other parts of the city, and Lee said it’s just for city hall and public works at the moment.

“We wanted to do a trial run,” Lee said. “I feel good about this guy. I feel good that he he knows what he’s talking about … but in the past, we’ve not had some great luck with some other vendors.”

The contract would last a year, Lee said, and would automatically renew unless the city sends a written notice 30 days prior to the renewal date to terminate it. George asked how many people are in the company, and Lee said it’s just the owner right now.

“But he has the ability to get third party people to help him if necessary,” Lee said.

Lee said he spoke with another company in Missouri with a great track record but said the company is much more expensive.

“We can go that route if we’re willing to pay it,” Lee said.

City attorney Clint Scheel said he looked over the agreement and believes everything is in order.

“I thought the city was about as protected contract-wise as you can be in something like this,” Scheel said.

McKinney said the city has to do something to improve cyber-security.

“We’ve been kicking this around for a long time knowing it’s something we needed,” McKinney said. “I believe, especially with this being a trial thing, it’s our best option at this time to get started to make it more secure.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the contract agreement.

In other business, the council voted to approve a request by the Berryville Chamber of Commerce to use the public square for a Summer Concert Series scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 26, in conjunction with the regular Carroll County Cruisers gathering. The council then deferred a request from the Carroll County Fair Board to hold the annual Carroll County Fair Parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, until more information is available about the proposed route.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, at City Hall.

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