WILKES-BARRE — The board of Hawkeye Security Solutions voted late Wednesday afternoon to prepare for the possibility of disbanding and handing over the operation of the camera surveillance system to the city.
The board approved giving its chairman, Frank Majikes, and co-chairman, Greg Barrouk, the authority to contact an attorney to advise them on dissolving the non-profit organization and prepare for a city takeover.
The move followed the decision two weeks ago by the Wilkes-Barre Parking Authority not to renew the three-year contract with Hawkeye to pay for cameras in the parking garages.
The Wilkes-Barre Area School District also decided in April against renewing its three-year $270,000 contract, eliminating another major funding source for the system. That same month, contractor Legion Security amended its contract and reduced the total weekly hours to monitor the cameras at city police headquarters.
A meeting scheduled for Nov. 12 might change that, said Greg Barrouk, a city employee and treasurer of Hawkeye. He and Police Chief Gerry Dessoye will meet with the authority to discuss the benefits of the system.
But Barrouk made an argument for letting the city take control of the system that went online in 2010.
Half of the nearly 260 cameras are owned by the city and the other half by Hawkeye, he said. In addition, the network supporting the system is built and the city handles most of the trouble-shooting through its information technology department.
“Really, at this point I think the best way to go would be with all our cameras under one umbrella and that would be the city,” Barrouk said.
He asked the board to approve a motion to dissolve Hawkeye so the city could take over.
Assistant City Attorney Bill Vinsko explained what’s under way at City Hall for the switch.
“The city through my office is putting together a plan to acquire the cameras and to oversee operations,” he said.
He suggested that it be effective Jan. 1 of next year and the board hold off on dissolving until the first quarter of 2014 to allow for the issues of Hawkeye assets and contracts to be addressed.
Board member Gus Genetti made the motion to engage legal counsel to review the advisability of dissolution. It received unanimous backing from Barrouk, Majikes, former Police Chief Joe Coyne, officer Tom Kupetz, Councilman Mike Merritt and Lou Lau, head of the city’s IT department.
The city has a $125,000 grant to the Health Department in next year’s budget that will cover the costs of Hawkeye, including renewing a network contract with Frontier Communications, said Drew McLaughlin, assistant to the mayor. It also will seek other funding sources from the state and federal governments to pay for the system.
“We feel, the administration, that the time has come to make this a municipal function under the direct control of the administration and the police department,” he said.