Macon council moves to buy Macon-Bibb software

City reserve fund rises to $8 million

jgaines@macon.comNovember 18, 2013 

A Macon City Council committee cleared the way Monday to buying software for all public safety functions of the incoming Macon-Bibb County government.

The resolution, which faces a final vote by the full council Tuesday night, is to buy software from New World Systems that will serve police, firefighters and other emergency services. The initial cost is about $1.9 million, with another $1.1 million spread over the next few years, largely for system maintenance. It can give police and firefighters a large amount of detailed data on each call that’s not currently available, while automatically entering much information into various record systems for the courts and jail.

New World also supplied the new government’s general administration software package, which already has been installed.

The task force working on city-county consolidation recommended the purchase in late October. Bibb County officials already have agreed, city interim Chief Administrative Officer Dale Walker told the Appropriations Committee.

Committee Chairman Tom Ellington asked if the public-safety software will be “up and running on day one,” when the new government starts.

“The first thing up will be the CAD system, and that will take about a year to do,” Walker said, referring to computer-aided dispatch. Existing, separate software systems will remain in use until the unified system is ready.

Up-front money for the purchase will come from the special purpose local option sales tax, which had $2.5 million set aside for such public safety needs, Walker said.

Ellington asked if Councilwoman Elaine Lucas, a frequent critic of consolidation but recently elected to a seat on the new commission, if she wanted to address the purchase.

“I’ve been finally convinced that we need to do this,” Lucas said. The resolution passed 4-0 with her support. Councilman Henry Ficklin was absent for the vote.

Capital fund

The city’s working capital reserve fund, known as the Filomena Fund for late Councilwoman Filomena Mullis, was tapped for $2 million this fall. But now it’s risen to $8 million, Walker said.

In August the city decided to borrow $2 million from the fund. At Ficklin’s urging, that resolution required it to be replenished no later than Dec. 31.

“Now that we’re getting property tax receipts in, that has actually been repaid earlier than called for,” Ellington said. Before the borrowing, it stood at $7.2 million, so it’s bigger than any time since its 2005 establishment, according to Walker’s report.

The fund was set up to keep the city from having to borrow outside money until tax revenue arrived. The new Macon-Bibb government isn’t required to keep the fund in existence, Ellington said, but he thinks it would be wise to do so.

DUI policy

The council’s Public Safety Committee swiftly passed a resolution from Council President James Timley, asking Bibb County Sheriff David Davis to do something -- according to Davis-- that he’s already done.

The measure, which passed 5-0, asked Davis to review the sheriff’s office DUI roadblock polices in light of the recent Georgia Supreme Court decision Williams v. Georgia.

That case, based on a 2010 DUI stop at a downtown Macon roadblock, found that Bibb County policy was “overly broad,” assistant City Attorney Christine Helms said.

The case against James Kemp Williams was dropped after justices found the roadblocks, which were set up from “general interest in crime control,” violated motorists’ right against unlawful search and seizure.

In late October, Davis said he issued a directive to revamp policies in compliance with the law. New policies are to be implemented when city police merge with the sheriff’s office in January. Timley wasn’t present Monday, but Ellington asked what changes already had been made following the Williams decision.

Chief Deputy Russell Nelson said deputies must give a specific, individual purpose for checkpoints: DUI enforcement or seat belt checks, for example, instead of just stopping cars for general inspections.

The resolution also asks Bibb County State Court Solicitor Rebecca Grist to review pending DUI cases to make sure they’re “legally sufficient and appropriate for prosecution.”

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service