CENTERVILLE -- City Council approved spending almost $45,000 for new laptops for police patrol cars during its work session Tuesday.
While council members agreed to spend the money, they hope to get most of the expenditure back.
Councilman Jonathan Nichols recommended the purchase, saying police laptops were outdated, and a growing number of them were broken.
He said police had not repaired or purchased new laptops because Houston County special purpose local option sales tax funds had been targeted for new laptops. However, he said SPLOST revenues are lower than expected and slow in coming, and funds for laptops wont be available until July of next fiscal year.
Nichols said the laptops are needed now, and council unanimously agreed, voting to spend just over $44,800 for nine new machines.
Councilman Cameron Andrews seconded the motion saying the laptops were something police had to have, and the city would need to spend the money whether it was reimbursed by SPLOST or not.
Theyve got to have it -- spend the money, he said.
Centerville hopes to recoup somewhere from $36,000 to $41,000 from SPLOST funds for the project.
Police Chief Sidney Andrews assured council the laptops were used for critical police operations such as dispatch, tag checks and identification as well as for safety features such as GPS tracking for officers. He emphasized they were not simply toys or luxuries.
In another police finance matter, council agreed to pay Commercial Furnishings of Macon $4,184 to move gun safes, furniture and other items from the citys current police facility to its new law enforcement center in February. Commercial Furnishings is also providing new furniture for the new complex on Church Street next to City Hall.
In a lengthy discussion, council members talked over plans for a coming city planning retreat just months away. In particular, Nichols expressed a desire that the time not be spent as a brain storming session but that officials would come to the event expecting to discuss how to accomplish ideas already decided upon.
Council members particularly discussed ongoing desires and a previous study toward developing a downtown in Centerville.
Councilman Ed Tucker challenged the idea of moving toward a traditional downtown saying that traditional downtowns werent being created anywhere anyway. He said instead Centerville might consider its main stretch of road, Houston Lake Boulevard, as a focal point for its downtown endeavors and development.
Regardless, council members all expressed the need for practical planning. Tucker said development to the north of the Houston County Galleria mall was eagerly being pursued by the malls owners, and the possibility of development such as a four-story hotel there were real possibilities.
He questioned if the city was prepared for such development and said such opportunities needed to be planned for.
Tucker also emphasized city leaders must come to agreement on what sort of community Centerville wants to be in the future and set goals accordingly.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.