Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance
Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:
• Tabled until March 19 action on picking an outside firm to handle the city’s information technology services.
• Approved offering $1,000 to help sponsor the annual Great Bend Job Fest. The 2018 Job Fest held on April 19. Since the inception of the event, the City of Great Bend has been a sponsor and supporter, Job Fest Committee member Scott Donovan said.
• Heard a report from Community Coordinator Christina Hayes.
• Was introduced to America’s U.S. Miss Teen Kansas Laura Daniels.
• Heard a local retailers report from Sally Mauler and Mark Mingenback who expressed appreciation for the city’s support of local businesses.
• Heard from Gary Burke and Pat Cale who addressed council about the Great Bend Rotary Club’s plans for McAurther Lake.
• Approved abatements at: 425 Maple St., Accumulation of refuse, owned by Juan Gomez; 900 (910) 9th St., Accumulation of refuse, owned by Brian Johnson; and 1714 Adams St., Accumulation of refuse, owned by Ada and George Jr. Fanatia.
Although Great Bend City Council members were fully aware of the dire need to improve the city’s information technology, it voted Monday night to table choosing an outside IT firm to handle these needs. They felt the proposals presented weren’t “apples to apples” and wanted more details before spending this kind of money.
The agenda 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 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,” Interim City Administrator George Kolb said. “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.
“Our preferred vendor based on their experience, qualifications and strength would be Gilmore Solutions,” Kolb said. “However, we feel Central Plains Computer Services would meet our needs as well.”
However, Kolb said CPCS doesn’t have experience working with cities and doesn’t have the resources in place now to meet Great Bend’s needs.
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
Councilman Brock McPherson asked if this cost was in the city budget.
Yes, he was told, 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.
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.
Kolb said on Jan. 3 the administration department sought proposals and has received four solid bidders. The council was poised to pick from Office Products Inc. of Great Bend, Network Management Group Inc. of Hutchinson and Gilmore, but the fifth bid came in over the weekend prior to the meeting.
By delaying action, some on the council said OPI may be able to jump back into the mix. All on the council liked the idea of looking to local firm first.