Source: The Corydon Democrat

County approves vehicle tracking program

by Ross Schulz

October 29, 2013

The Harrison County Council Monday night voted to approve GIS tracking devices for Harrison County Highway Dept. vehicles by a 5-2 vote, after it failed to receive enough votes to pass last month.

The system will be implemented by 39 Degrees North, a company the county already works with for mapping purposes.

The cost to place 50 units on county highway vehicles is just more than $32,000. About $20,000 of it will be a recurring, annual cost should the county decide to continue it beyond next year. The approved plan is only a pilot program.

The system is a management tool, not something the county will use to spy on employees, Commissioner Kenny Saulman said.

“I hope the guys don’t think we’re spying on them,” he said.

Commissioner George Ethridge said they will be able to see how many miles have been mowed or plowed in a given time period.

“This will give us a record; we can respond to inquiries,” Ethridge said. “There’s a lot of good things about it.”

The managers of the system, which will be highway superintendent Glen Bube and the commissioners, will be able to see where the vehicles are at all times and can have up to 16 electrical notifications for each vehicle such as speed, engine idle, plow up/down, maintenance issues, etc. And, should a vehicle be stolen, the device will make it easy to track down the vehicle.

It will also be handy when a vehicle is involved in a collision.

Councilman Jim Heitkemper, who previously voted against the program but voted for it Monday, said he was worried that the information gathered could be skewed by management to get rid of certain individuals. Not necessarily the current management, he said, but future commissioners and or highway superintendents.

“I’ve heard a little apprehension from our best fellas,” Heitkemper said. “Those are my fears. Those are their fears.”

Ethridge said the data is the data; it can’t be manipulated.

“We’re trying to become a more efficient highway department,” Ethridge said.

He said the sheriff’s department is interested in the results of the pilot program and may consider the program in the future.

Councilmen Gordon Pendleton and Ralph Sherman voted against the tracking device motion.

In other business, the council completed its second reading of the 2014 budget, meaning it is officially adopted. To view the budget for specifics, visit the auditor’s office in the Harrison County Government Center in south Corydon.

The council also tabled a request of $635,000 for the process to begin to replace bridge 15 on Big Indian Road because Councilman Gary Davis said the council wants to see bids before approving money.

“We’ve always been told by the commissioners they had to have funding in place before opening bids,” he said. “That’s not so.”

Davis said both the council and commissioners’ legal counsel agreed that bids could be opened, just not awarded, without funding in place.

Davis said from now on, unless it’s an emergency, he’d like to see bids opened before the council awards the funding.

Maintenance director Danny Spencer received approval to wire electric to the sheriff’s new small structure outside the Justice Center and to remove the ash trees around the center with leftover funding from the window sealing/caulking project.

Spencer said the ash trees have been destroyed by the Emerald Ash Borer and falling limbs have become a problem. He said Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye plans to have a beautification project with inmates for the area.

The council’s next meeting will be Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. (meeting is moved from Monday, Nov. 11, for Veterans Day) at the Government Center.