Denham Springs — Denham Springs city officials will begin using GPS equipment to keep closer tabs on municipal workers.
The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a contract to install the equipment in 100 vehicles for all departments at a cost of $1,500 per month.
The program has already shown promise. During a monthlong trial, fuel costs citywide went down 7 percent, even though the equipment was installed in only 11 vehicles, and all the drivers were informed, Mayor Gerard Landry said.
Another employee was reprimanded when the equipment caught him speeding in his city vehicle, Councilman Rene Delahoussaye said.
Officials noted the equipment will also help protect the city from spurious claims. If a resident complains that a city street sweeper knocked over his mailbox, authorities can view the driver’s record and see if the vehicle was in the area when the incident allegedly occurred, said purchasing agent Melvin Womack.
Landry said the records will also help the city keep track of mosquito spraying as Denham Springs prepares to launch its own abatement program. Supervisors will be able to check how frequently each stretch of road is treated and ensure the driver is traveling at an appropriate speed to disperse the chemicals, he said.
The city will retain the records for six months, Womack said. He said he would like the city’s department heads, council member and mayor to have access to the data.
Tuesday also marked the debut of new recording equipment in the council chambers. Earlier this year, the city’s Civil Service Board abandoned an investigation of the police chief and captain after their attorneys discovered the officers’ testimonies were not properly recorded.
Cassette tapes, which The Advocate has reviewed, had gaps in the recordings, and portions were jumbled and difficult to understand. In January, the board chairman told the council the recording equipment in the chamber was to blame and asked the city to upgrade its system.
The new digital equipment, which cost about $5,000, will replace the old analog system. City Clerk Joan LeBlanc said recordings can be uploaded to city computers.
There is no plan to put recordings online, though the public can still request to listen to recordings.
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