Beaufort News

Beaufort police receive money toward downtown cameras

Images from four of Bluffton's new surveillance cameras are displayed on a monitor at the new Old Town Bluffton Police Substation on Aug. 25, 2015. The City of Beaufort is also considering a surveillance camera network.
Images from four of Bluffton's new surveillance cameras are displayed on a monitor at the new Old Town Bluffton Police Substation on Aug. 25, 2015. The City of Beaufort is also considering a surveillance camera network.

If all goes to plan, a Beaufort police officer will be sitting in front of video screens next summer, monitoring crowds at the Beaufort Water Festival.

The officer can access different cameras and angles, zooming in and out and covering a lot of area with little manpower.

That's the Beaufort Police Department's hope for new surveillance cameras soon to be installed downtown.

City Council voted to partially fund the first phase of the cameras Tuesday. About 14 cameras will be placed to cover Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, Bay Street from Charles to Carteret, and Port Republic during the initial phase, which Deputy Chief Dale McDorman says he hopes to begin within a couple of months.

The money was granted along with other requests from accommodations tax money, a pool resulting from the so-called bed tax on overnight lodging. State law requires the money be used for tourism-related expenses, which includes public safety in tourist-heavy areas.

Police will get $35,000 for the cameras from the tax money; the city had requested $75,000. The method for paying for the remaining cost of the cameras has not been decided, city finance director Kathy Todd said.

Another $146,000 will go to pay salaries and benefits for downtown law enforcement personnel "directly attributed to the support of tourism," to satisfy state law.

In the end, council granted $201,000 in requests from city staff. In addition to the cameras and downtown personnel, $20,000 will go to maintenance of the Spanish Moss Trail.

Now that the camera money has been approved, the surveillance company and Beaufort Police Department will work to decide the best staging locations to capture faces and activity. Police officers will be able to access video from their cars, and the plan is to review footage each morning from overnight, McDorman said.

McDorman demonstrated the new cameras by showing ones in Bluffton with his phone, thumbing through different angles.

The Tourism Development Advisory Committee, the panel that reviews the accomodations tax requests, recommended the city get only $5,000. Chairman Chip Dinkins said Tuesday there were "glaring differences" in the city's recommendations to council.

The panel doesn't believe the Spanish Moss Trail provides enough tourist activity to justify its allocation, Dinkins told council. He added that the city might meet resistance when the Spanish Moss Trail expense is reviewed by the state.

City leaders say they were forced into the unconventional measures in the face of budget constraints and that some of the expenses were discussed at length while forming the budget earlier this year.

"It's been there for anyone to read, look at and see there's no surprises," said City Manager Bill Prokop.

A-tax requests for 2015

Organization - program/eventOther sources2014/2015 recommendationRequest2015/2016 Recommendation
Santa Elena Foundation - Marketing150,000.0010,000.0031,358.0020,000.00
Historic Beaufort Foundation - Architects Spring Tour/Website Development/Verdier1,000.003,125.002,295.001,200.00
Historic Beaufort Foundation - Website Development  1,530.001,000.00
Historic Beaufort Foundation - Verdier House Marketing  1,080.00-
Beaufort History Museum - Marketing/Advertising15,677.37 15,677.377,500.00
Black Chamber of Commerce - Cultural Marketing/Gullah Festival/Gullah Christmas220,586.0030,000.0050,000.0030,000.00
Beaufort Art Association - Billboard for 2016 Art Show550.00350.00550.00550.00
Beaufort County Historical Society - Spring Conference   5,000.00
Chamber of Commerce - General Destination Marketing307,660.0090,000.00100,000.0095,000.00
Chamber of Commerce - Visitor Center Operations59,070.0035,000.0035,000.0035,000.00
SC Lowcountry Tourism - 4 County Promotion includes City of Beaufort511,540.0011,500.0022,100.0015,000.00
Main Street Beaufort - Festival Operation/Wi-Fi/General Marketing17,901.0019,000.0038,999.0035,000.00
Artworks/Arts Council - ArtPOP Billboards87,200.001,900.007,500.00-
Port Royal Sound Foundation - Maritime Center Marketing "More to Sea"50,850.00 15,000.003,750.00
FirstShore - Billboard Campaign27,100.00-10,000.00-
Exchange Club of Beaufort - Ghost Tour Promotion2,076.001,500.002,800.001,000.00
Penn Center, Inc. - Heritage Celebration Marketing, Promotion and Special Event110,000.0011,800.0020,000.0018,000.00
USCB Center for the Arts - Pat Conroy at 7048,200.00 15,075.003,000.00
USCB Center for the Arts - SC Arts Conference6,116.00 1,540.001,000.00
USCB Center for the Arts - Humanities Festival / Designer Showhouse11,406.00-10,000.00-
USCB Center for the Arts - Renovations to Performing Art Center1,075,000.00-125,000.0075,000.00
Spanish Moss Trail - Bike Map for Northern Beaufort County4,947.005,000.004,947.004,000.00
City of Beaufort - Spanish Moss Trail Maintenance47,229.00 30,000.00-
City of Beaufort - Camera Monitoring System- 75,000.00-
City of Beaufort - Tour Coordinator and Patrolman (Compensation)- 157,121.935,000.00

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