Burlington City Hall might be getting a security update.
Interim Police Chief Jeff Klein told city council members Monday during their work session City Hall needs to have more precautions to keep those that work in the building safe from those who might wish to do them harm.
“Locking it down like the White House, I’m not saying that,” Klein said. “However, making it more secure at certain points, to essential personnel, that would be our recommendation.”
Klein recommended two walls be installed in the second floor of the building, which includes the finance department, city manager’s office, city council office and the city clerk’s office.
“It would make most sense to keep those areas restricted,” Klein said.
The walls would have metal doors requiring a keycard for access.
Individual offices also could have keycard access so only certain city hall employees could have access to them. He said this would work well on the third floor, where it would be impossible to put up a wall as it would restrict access to the public restrooms.
Klein said the access points also could be set up to remain open for periods of time. Klein said this system is used for the police department to allow people to come into the building when meetings take place upstairs in the Black Hawk room, which ordinarily would be locked.
“The programming options are limitless in the system,” Klein said
Cameras were another issue in the talk over city hall safety.
“The camera system is average at best,” Klein said.
With a new system, Klein said, anyone in a city building with access to the cameras could see what is happening in City Hall at any time. He also recommended where new cameras could be placed and the city install cameras similar to those in the police department, which he said are low profile enough they would not be noticed by members of the general public.
In addition, the camera system would allow portions of City Hall to be put on lockdown remotely.
Another security recommendation is to install a panic bar in the city council table. Such a bar would allow a city council member to alert DesCom discreetly if there is a danger there. The police department already uses a similar system.
Klein said the total bill for the security upgrades would be between $75,000 and $100,000.
City councilman Matt Rinker agreed with Klein’s recommendations.
“It’s time for a giant upgrade,” Rinker said.
Rinker said while he is in favor of security upgrades, he would not want to sign off on security features that would be torn out in a few years if the building is renovated.
He said he would be in favor of blocking off the city manager’s office, the finance department and some of the offices on the third floor.
Likewise, Mayor Jon Billups wants to hear more from staff to find out what they think would be best. Klein said he will solicit opinions from city staffers and look into what other security businesses would recommend.
Two items pertaining to the fire department were on Monday’s agenda, the first of which was a new alert system.
Currently, all fire departments stations are alerted to all calls, even if it is not the responsibility of that station. However, with a new system, only the station that is needed for a call would be alerted.
The new system also would allow for alert tones to start relatively quiet and get louder over time, which would be better for firefighters’ health. Burlington Fire Chief Matt Trexel showed a heart monitor graph displaying a member of the fire department being awoken by sirens. According to the graph, the numbers went from 50 beats per minute while sleeping to 140 beats per minute. He said the new system of tones may help to prevent these sudden increases in heart rate caused by being awoken by extremely loud sirens.
Also on the agenda was the possibility of the Burlington Fire Department taking over Lee County’s ambulance billing.
Lee County is considering switching to a county-run ambulance service, but county officials cannot make the change before having a billing system in place.
Several members of the Lee County government spoke with the BFD about ambulance billing. After their discussions, the group asked if the BFD would be willing to do their ambulance billing. Trexel said if the council did vote to allow the change, the city would receive 6% of all billing costs that run through the city. He said this is a typical rate one would see for ambulance billing.
The BFD already handles billing for the Mediapolis Ambulance Service at a payout of $20 per bill.
The city council is looking into changing the parking situation along a portion of the 1800 block of Osborne Street.
The portion of Osborne Street just past the Hungry Bear parking lot has no parking. That could be extended down the rest of the block to Grace Lane as, at the request of Mayor Pro-tem Lynday Graham-Murray, the city is looking into whether residents would be interested in doing so.
The layout of city water bills might be changing.
Currently, the city includes the recycling fee with the garbage fees. However, the Renewable Energy Commission would like to see the fee broken out into a separate line item to make residents aware that recycling is a service paid for by everyone who gets a city garbage bill.