The Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance
Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:
• Approved hiring a city network administrator to handle the city’s information technology needs.
• Approved a a bid from Marmie Motors for a new 2018 Dodge Pickup for the park department for $28,14 7 and a bid from Pro-Tint for a new Tommy Lift for $2,508. In February, a park employee was in an accident involving a motorist running a stop sign T-boned the current city pickup, totalling it, Public Lands Director Scott Keeler said. The city received $14,557 in insurance money and the old lift was removed and installed on a different existing park pickup.
The park department has $25,000 that has been saved since 2014 for a new pickup. Now, $16,098 will be transferred from this fund to cover the cost of the new truck.
• Heard Convention and Visitors Bureau Director/Community Coordinator Christina Hayes’ monthly report. She focused on positive numbers in the transient guest tax paid by motel customers, attending the Denver Travel Show this weekend, Cheyenne Bottoms being mentioned in the latest National Geographic issue, the completion of repairs to the hike/bike path and concerns downtown business owners are having with the on-going waterline improvement project that is interrupting customer traffic.
• Approved abatements at: 1219 Madison, motor vehicle nuisance, owned by Elizabeth Davidson; and 1414 Park Ave., accumulation of refuse, owned by Wesley Anderson.
Members of the City of Great Bend’s information technology committee weighed carefully the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a full-time information technology manager for the city against contracting with an outside party to handle the important task.
In the end, the committee – consisting of City Council members Cory Urban, Jolene Biggs and Andrew Erb, city administrators and department heads, and community IT professionals Ryan Axman from USD 428 and Charles Perkins from Barton Community College – recommended creating a new city position over a third-party firm. The full council agreed, unanimously in favor of the proposal Monday night.
“We discussed a number of pros and cons,” Urban said, speaking for the committee. After reviewing proposals from outside vendors, it was suggested that the city hire an IT employee to be the advocate for the city.
It was difficult to compare apples to apples when looking at the outside vendors, Urban said. It was also difficult to determine if the best interests of the city would always be at the forefront.
“They would be the point person for everything technology related for the city,” Urban said. They could implement upgrades over time and prioritize them, bid out individual projects instead of the entire network, handle basic fixes and train personnel on the dangers of computer scams and cyber security.
This will come with a heftier pricetag at first since there are several urgent improvements that must be made, but Urban said overall this is more cost effective. “Long term, a staff member is the better route.”
“Technology is just getting bigger and bigger,” committee member Biggs said. “We are behind the eight ball already.”
The committee has met for about three hours over the last two weeks about the city’s IT needs. Now, an amendment to the pay resolution will be presented to council at a later council meeting for final approval.
According to the approved job description, the new staff member will be under the general supervision of the city clerk/finance director with guidance from the city administrator. They will be responsible for all software installation, backups, upgrades, and all required maintenance of the city of Great Bend’s computers, networks and citywide IT systems.
They will also be responsible for technical assistance, systems training and all application software and hardware support for city employees as well as instruction on security related best-practices. In addition, it is this person’s job to create the strategic vision and overall planning for the current and future technology needs of the city.
The salary range will be finalized in the amended pay resolution. But, according to information in the council agenda packet, the suggested pay with beneifts ranged from $62,000 to $96,000.
The city has an IT line in the budget. But this total exceeds that.
However, currently, each department is spending money on IT needs and services. This would bring all of these under one umbrella and save city funds.
In addition, the city has had a slot created for an assistant city administrator, a post that has remained vacant for several years. That money could be tapped as well until the city plans its next budget and includes the new job.
The matter of choosing an outside information technology firm to handle the City of Great Bend’s IT needs has been tabled twice since January by the council. Both times, council members were seeking additional background before making a commitment.
The agenda on Feb. 19 included the council opting between Gilmore Solutions of Sterling, the preferred choice of the city administrative staff, or Central Plains Computer Service of Great Bend. In the end, the council directed the staff gather more information.
“To me, this is too open ended,” Councilwoman Jolene Biggs said. “We need to go back to the drawing board.”
“I know it needs to be done,” Councilman Cory Urban said. But, the council needed a clearer break down of the proposals and costs in layman’s terms.
In tabling the matter until the March 19 meeting, the council also asked the city staff to form a committee and seek input from various private and public sector IT professionals in the area.
“It is imperative we begin to protect the city’s assets and records,” Kolb said when the council met in February. “We need to be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.”
The city could do nothing, which he said was not an option, form a IT department, which he said would be very costly, or outsource the work. That is what he recommended.
The city sent out a formal request for proposal seeking a full-service managed IT partner. Five proposals were submitted and evaluated by city staff who narrowed it down to two finalists – Gilmore and CPCS.
They based their decision on a “score card” that looked at such things as the company’s stability, financial considerations and experience. Some of these 10 criteria were weighted as being more important than others.
Gilmore Solutions evaluation came in with the highest score, Kolb said. “They have the appropriate qualifications/certifications to meet our needs.”
The company also have the vendor strength and stability to take the city on as a client and has extensive experience with working with municipalities. They have a one-time fixed cost not to exceed of $49,000 that will get the city’s system up to the firm’s standard to take Great Bend on as a client, Kolb said.
This expense can be spread over the year, he said. The monthly rate is $8,000 plus the Microsoft licensing fees which are determined by the number of users and the type of plan each user would need.
These rates concerned council members. They didn’t like the fact that the total potential costs could be much higher than expected.
Kolb said Central Plains Computer Services came in with the second highest score. “They do not have the experience with municipalities, but they been in business for over 30 years as a full-service IT company.”
CPCS’s proposal was strong and demonstrated that they would meet the city’s needs, Kolb said. The company has a one-time fixed cost of $25,245 to get the city set up on it system.
There is another potential one-time fixed cost at a later date to set the city up on a virtual private cloud server for $28,000. The monthly rate is $7,598.18. Here is where those on the council got confused with who was offering what. It was Urban who suggested a “matrix” or a grid so council members could compare all the bidders.
This issue first arose at the Jan. 3 council meeting. Kolb had witnessed numerous deficiencies in the city’s information technology that pose a risk to the city and the residents it serves.
The agenda that night included the approval of a contract with Gilmore. But, that was tabled because an additional proposal was received and more evaluation was needed.