Sheriff’s software issue raised

Published 9:52 am Thursday, May 17, 2012

Charles Brunson, a partner in Law Enforcement Custom Software, presented the County Commission with a proposal for licensing if the county wants to continue using software he designed.

Brunson’s proposal consists of $3,000 per month for licensing and maintenance on computer systems, primarily those used by the Sheriff’s Department.

Brunson has been working on software for the CCSO since 1999, but this proposal marks the first time he has asked for compensation.

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“If you wanted to get paid for what you’re doing, you went through the wrong process,” said Commissioner Charlie Sankey. “The contract should have been first. If you wanted to get paid for the software, you should have gotten the contract before.”

Brunson said that even though the software was installed on county computers, he retains the rights to the software that he wrote.

“The software that he [Sheriff Charles West] has was developed for his needs,” Brunson said. “It was changed whenever he or his people needed it changed. None of this software is owned by the county or him. It’s mine.”

Brunson also said that he’s not looking for payment on time spent since 1999.

“I’m not looking for compensation prior to this time,” he said. “What I’m talking about is in the future.”
West said that Crenshaw County is “way ahead” of other counties when it comes to electronic records keeping through the Sheriff’s Department, and that auditors have complimented him on the ease of working with the system.

“I think it’s time he got compensated,” said West, who added that Brunson has helped the Sheriff’s Department. “When I came in office, there was one computer over there.”

Brunson said that software that accomplishes what his program does is difficult to find “off the shelf,” and while none of the data entered into the system in previous years would be lost, his software may be removed if the Commission doesn’t enter into the contract.

Several Commissioners had concerns about the timing of the proposal.

“I’d rather have seen something like this at budget time,” Commissioner Merrill Sport said. “My other question is: is this something we’d have to bid?”

The state bid law requires anything over $15,000 be bid, and at $3,000 per month for licensing and maintenance, the total cost per year would be $36,000.

“It’s a service, and you don’t have to bid services,” Sankey said.

However, county attorney Johnny Nichols said he was unsure of how the licensing would be categorized, and that he would check to see if it should be bid.

“I think I can speak for the partnership, and it’s not unreasonable to give you until the end of the month,” Brunson said.

The Commission took no action on the matter and waited for an opinion on the bid law from Nichols.

In other business, County Engineer Benjie Sanders updated the Commission on the status of grants submitted to the state for bridge work in the county.

“We expect an announcement on the funded projects this week,” he said.

The county submitted 10 projects, and Sanders said he expects those handing out the grants to “spread the money around” on the first wave of grants, so it may take some time to get all the county’s projects funded.

“I think we’ll get our highest-priority projects, but I don’t expect to get all of them,” he said. “However, that might provide a little more breathing room in getting it contracted and let.”

Sanders also made the Commission aware of a land and water conservation grant that would allow the county to put a boat ramp on Highway 106 over the Patsaliga River.

“The deadline for pre-application is May 25, and we’ve got to have a resolution, preliminary design, and cost estimate,” Sanders said.

Even though the grant requires a 50/50 match, the county has bridge slabs left over from previous bridge work that could be used for the ramp, something Covington County has successfully done in the past.

“I don’t think we would have any cash involved in the project,” he said.

The Commission passed a resolution to make the application and get the project moving.

Because the night meeting of the County Commission falls on May 28, Memorial Day, which is a legal holiday, there will be no meeting held.