The August Public Safety committee is the first-time departments begin to submit their budget for 2020. Highlights from the meeting included the Sheriff’s Office looking to fund an emergency response team and the courts asking for a new video conference.

Judge Melissia Mogen and Clerk of Court Jackie Baasch made a presentation about the updates needed for the courtroom.

Mogen described the current sound system and video conferencing equipment as “archaic.”

The sound system in the courtroom has not been updated since 2001 and the video conference equipment was installed in 2005.

Baasch put together a PowerPoint presentation that stated the video conferencing system is, “becoming more and more outdated due to technology upgrades.”

Mogen told a story about the issues with the current sound system causing issues with court. There was a witness on the phone during court proceedings and they could not hear what they were saying and continued to call back.

“The Court needs to hear what the doctor was saying, if I can’t hear the doctor than I can’t hear the evidence,” Mogen said.

They have similar issues with the video conferencing system.

“Due to the age of our video conferencing system, our system is out of date and incompatible with out-of-state prisons and mental health institutes,” Mogen said.

The courtrooms system is not compatible with Mayo Health Institute in Eau Claire, Amery Behavioral Health and Miller Dwan in Duluth.

A new video conferencing system could greatly cut down on transportation costs for transporting individuals from facilities in Barron, as well as Oshkosh and Waupun. Mogen added there is a possibility that over five years the new system could save the county $100,000 just by cutting the number of transports in half.

The total cost of the new video conferencing equipment and sound system is set to cost $56,500.

The clerk of courts office also asked for capital improvement funds to remodel their front office and customer service window to make the department more efficient and more secure. They have budgeted $18,500 for these updates.

Sheriff’s budget goes down

The sheriff’s office budget request went down about $86,000 from last year because the department is not buying any new squad cars. The previous administration bought two new squad cars every year and Sheriff Tracy Finch said they have vehicles that don’t have enough miles on them to necessitate replacing them.

Finch also discussed re-vamping the county’s emergency response team. The team would be similar to a SWAT team. She also said she has received interest from all police departments in the county.

Finch also said the department is looking at buying a used ambulance for transportation of the team. An ambulance would be best because it would be big enough to transport the response team and their equipment.

The Public Safety committee approved both budgets along with the budgets from the district attorney office, child support and emergency management. All budget reports will go to the administration committee on Monday August 19.