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KAT Joint Powers Board discusses security cameras

WILLMAR -- Security cameras will eventually be placed in the entire fleet of the Kandiyohi Area Transit buses.

The KAT Joint Powers Board was informed at their meeting Friday that there is a need for cameras to record incidents like accidents or misconduct on the buses that would help KAT make improvements.

John Groothuis, KAT transit director, said he would like to install cameras in three buses now, at a total cost of about $5,000, and outfit one additional bus every year.

The KAT Operations Board saw a Canadian camera security system tested in a KAT bus during their meeting last month. Since then, Groothuis said he's contacted a local company, Peart & Associations, about providing similar technology.

Members of the Joint Powers Board asked if there had been problems on the buses that warranted the cameras. Groothuis gave examples of incidents that have occurred, like inappropriate touching, misbehavior by youth and "he said, she said" type incidents that could be resolved by having the bus activity recorded.

The system includes two cameras -- one facing the rear of the bus and the other facing the door and fare box.

The board was informed that the final payment to Kandiyohi County for the KAT building was paid off early. Money that had been dedicated to the loan payment will instead be used to add four hours per day onto a Willmar route for additional transit service.

Groothuis said the additional hours will likely be between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The start-up date for the change hasn't been determined yet.

There will not be an increase in fares for 2006. Although the fuel budget for 2005 will be about $20,000 over the budgeted amount, the revenues for KAT, which includes grants from Kandiyohi County, the city of Willmar and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, will keep the budget in the black.

"We appear to be having a good year for 2005," Groothuis said.

KAT sold one of its old buses recently for $4,400.

Kandiyohi County Commissioner Richard Falk, who is chair of the KAT Joint Powers Board, said he wished the county had been aware the bus was for sale. He said it could have been used by the Veterans Service Office to transport military veterans to medical appointments.

KAT usually sells one bus every year. Groothuis said he would make sure the County Commissioners are aware of when the next bus will be sold.

In other action the board:

- Voted unanimously to appoint Bunne Frost-Johnson and Lourdez Schwab, both of Willmar, to the KAT operating board. There are two additional openings on the board that need to be filled.

- Agreed to adjust the bereavement, personal and sick leave policy that will allow greater flexibility for employees to use time, but won't increase the total time employees will be entitled to use.

- Was informed that adjustments were made in the health insurance plan for employees that will reduce premium costs. A health savings account system will be considered next year. The board also agreed to "buy back" the full family health care coverage it had been providing to Groothuis, who will now have the same health coverage as the other KAT employees.

- Was informed that the early-morning weekend bar routes to Spicer was being suspended during the winter and will be reviewed in the spring.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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