At a cost of $1.7 million, the West University Place City Council has approved a contract for the second phase of the city’s Virtual Gate camera system.

The contract for the second phase of the system was approved by a vote of 4-1 during the council’s April 12 meeting, with Council Member Ed Sobash against.

“Is the cost of moving forward worth proceeding with what we have?” Sobash asked the rest of the council.

The question comes as West University Place remains in the first of two phases for the project, which uses license plate readers and live-feed cameras to cover lanes of traffic and alert police of stolen vehicles, vehicles with Amber or Silver alerts, or those registered to individuals with a record of violent crimes.

Phase 1 remains delayed as West University Place waits for the city of Houston to approve permits for the eight remaining locations, putting the project behind schedule by a few months. The portion of the project was originally estimated to be completed by December 2020 but will instead be completed in the second quarter of this year.

Minuteman Security Technologies, the contractor for the project’s first phase, was tapped for the new contract to tackle the second portion of the project, which will start no later than May 3, with expected completion by the end of 2021.

“If there is a delay, there would be a cost in that delay of security for our residents,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Trautner, who voted in favor of approving the contract for the second phase.

Thus far, the city has installed 12 live-feed cameras and 25 license-plate readers at seven entrances into the city for Phase 1. Once Phase 1 is complete, the city will have 28 live-feed cameras and 76 plate readers. Phase 2, meanwhile, will include cameras and readers at 25 locations within West University Place.

The total cost for both phases of the project is $4.5 million, paid for through a certificate of obligation bond to be paid back by the city over the next 15 years.