LEESBURG — Even after a heated exchange between Lee County Commissioner Bill Williams and Lee Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Lewis Harris, the Lee Commission approved a request for $45,852 Tuesday to provide an updated security system at the Lee County Jail.
Sheriff’s officials and a representative of Safe Security Inc., which had the low bid on the project, told commissioners the “antiquated” camera system currently used at the Lee County Jail left LSO personnel and even civilians who entered certain areas of the jail at risk.
Before voting on the measure, Williams, who is head of the commission’s Finance Department, said, “Can y’all give us an honest figure on (budgetary needs) in the future? You requested $8,000 for a new camera security system on your budget, and now you’re asking for $45,852.
“How did it get to that figure? You really caught us off guard.”
Harris, who was in the audience, refuted Williams’ claim.
“You were notified,” he said. “I requested $60,000, and $8,000 is what the board approved.”
Williams responded in kind.
“That is not correct,” he said. “You asked for $8,000. I’ll be glad to fax you a copy of the budget forms.”
“What I’d like are minutes of the budget hearing,” Harris said.
Despite the exchange, when Commission Chairman Ed Duffy called for action on the request, Williams made the motion to accept the bid.
“A see this as a public safety issue,” Duffy said before the vote. “There certainly is a need.”
Commission Vice Chairman Rick Muggridge initially brought up the discrepancy in the bid amount and the budget request made by the sheriff’s office.
“As I recall, the number on the budget was $8,000,” he said. “This is significantly more.”
Joe Woody, a security technical consultant with Safe Security, said his company’s bid includes equipment purchase and installation of a 47-camera digital system.
“You don’t have the capability to record with the antiquated system that is at the jail now,” Woody said. “This new system gives you the capacity to record 60 days of activity at the facility.”
Woody said that Safe Security would begin installation of the new system at the start of the new year and would need about a month to get it in place.