Albemarle BOS Approves Bus Cameras, Tables Court Upgrade Options

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Albemarle County supervisors had some big decisions to make during an all-day meeting Wednesday. They're trying to make school bus stops safer for students and figure out what to do with overcrowded court buildings.

Supervisors unanimously passed a motion to add security cameras to county school buses. What started as a pilot program will become permanent by the end of year, catching drivers who try and speed around the buses illegally, endangering students.

"I just think it's great that the Board of Supervisors supports this, that they understood clearly today that this is a safety issue around students. This isn't about trying to grab money and raise revenue; this is about student safety,” said Dean Tistadt, chief operating officer of Albemarle County Public Schools.

Those caught by the new cameras will be charged $250 per offense. Some people were concerned the cameras would be an invasion of people's privacy, but the schools say the cameras only gather enough information to convict offenders.

"It's going to get the make, model of the car, the license plate - all of the information necessary to issue a civil penalty, but it's not identifying the driver because this is not a criminal violation; this is not going on an individual’s driving record,” Tistadt said.

Supervisors made that decision pretty quickly, but talks about what to do with the county's courts will have to continue. At issue: the need for more space and parking accommodations.

The options before the board are to renovate the historic buildings in downtown Charlottesville to add more space, or move all court operations to a new location in the county.

“What board members have been very strong about is making sure that this investment, which is going to represent about $45 million to $50 million of county taxpayer money, that it's done with due diligence and it's a sound and wise investment on behalf of the county,” said county spokeswoman Lee Catlin.

Supervisors say they plan to get the city involved in these court location discussions. They also plan to hold several public hearings between now and October on the subject to get community feedback.

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