By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN If all goes as planned, the Winsted Police Department will be using body-worn cameras by the start of 2019.
The Winsted City Council aims to approve the equipment purchase at its Tuesday, Nov. 20 meeting. Two public hearings will take place beforehand, as a way for citizens to learn more about the new cameras and ask questions.
Police Chief Justin Heldt shared some cost estimates with the council at the work session Sept. 4. The department would be purchasing six cameras, related equipment, software, and data storage.
If a set amount of data storage per year is purchased, the total cost for five years would be $21,279 ($6,051 the first year, and $3,807 the next four years). For unlimited data storage, the five-year cost would be $29,868 ($5,973 each year).
The installation cost is estimated at $1,184.
Heldt said two police departments that are currently using body-worn cameras (Hutchinson and Big Lake) both recommended going with the unlimited data storage option, because it can be difficult to predict how much data will be created in a given year.
Before purchasing anything, the council will be having a public hearing during its regular council meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7. Meetings are normally on Tuesdays, but this one was moved due to elections Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Before body cameras would be purchased in Winsted, there would be two public hearings. Police Chief Justin Heldt proposed the following timeline:
• Wednesday, Nov. 7 Public hearing regarding the body-worn camera program. (This would be during the regular city council meeting, which was rescheduled due to elections Tuesday, Nov. 6.)
• Tuesday, Nov. 20 Public hearing regarding policies for the body-worn camera program. This would also be the day the council could vote to approve the purchase of the camera equipment.
• December 2018 Equipment would be installed and officers would begin training.
• Jan. 1, 2019 Body-worn cameras would be in use.
Another topic at the Sept. 4 work session was the city’s 2019 budget.
Interim City Administrator Patty Fitzgerald said she has been analyzing budget numbers that the former administrator, Dan Tienter, had prepared previously. Expenses for 2019 are tentatively projected to be 2.75 percent higher than this year.
“It’s good to know we’re not seeing crazy increases here,” Fitzgerald said.
She added that the expenses are only one side of the budget, and the revenue portion will be reviewed at a future meeting. The city’s preliminary budget is due to McLeod County at the end of September, and the final budget is set in December.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• accepted the voluntary resignation of Roman Heimerl from the Winsted Volunteer Fire Department, effective Aug. 6.
• authorized an agreement with TDS Telecom to upgrade to a fiber-optic line for internet services at city buildings. Fitzgerald said it will greatly increase the internet speed, and the cost is only slightly higher.
• accepted a contribution of $123,500 to be dedicated toward the construction and maintenance of the Winsted Veterans Memorial in Hainlin Park.
• accepted a contribution of $6,000 from the Winsted Area Chamber of Commerce for the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit that was in Winsted in August.
• heard from Council Member Tom Ollig that the water fountain is not working, so a new control panel has been ordered. The fountain is still under warranty.
• agreed to let the fire department use its ladder truck to install rope for a flag pole at the cemetery.