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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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4/25/2013 2:08:00 PM
Laptops and door locks: County Supervisors ponder tech expenses

Scott Orr
The Daily Courier


PRESCOTT - Tuesday's budget study session with the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors moved quickly through several departments' budgets before coming to the challenge of the Management Information Systems (MIS) "program change" requests, which add up to $1.3 million in addition to its $5.3 million 2013-14 budget.

After dealing with relatively small program changes from the treasurer, school superintendent, and the recorder and voter registration departments, board Chairman Chip Davis remarked that he was pleased to see that elected officials were being responsible with taxpayer dollars.

The board grilled MIS department head Michael Holmes on his budget for about two hours. The MIS budget has been made into a kind of catchall for many, but not all, technology requests from several other county departments, which is why Holmes asked for so much money.

Supervisor Tom Thurman wondered if that situation could be remedied. "I don't understand why one department has an MIS item, laptops, or whatever, on their (budget), and then a different department comes to you. I don't get it."

Holmes said he didn't have a good answer, but that the overall idea was advanced by the previous county administrator, who planned to have MIS make decisions on all technology purchases.

"I kind of think it's the responsibility of that department" to put items they need within their own budget, Thurman said, even if Holmes decides on the specific equipment.

Budget requests for other departments included $202,000 to replace a third of the computers in cars used by the sheriff's department, and $52,000 to replace and integrate electronic door locks at the courthouse.

That, combined with $53,000 needed to update other door locks, caught Davis' attention.

"I think I made a wrong decision, because initially the card-swipe system was the wave of the future and the greatest thing since sliced butter," Davis said. "What I am coming to realize is, this system is hugely expensive. If we were back to an old key system, we could re-key all of Yavapai County for 53,000 bucks."

Holmes argued that the card-swipe system allows the county "to better control and manage access to our facilities."

"We're not rolling in the dough," Davis continued. "It's great to have the best technology, but this one is proving to be very expensive to maintain."

Holmes suggested that it might make more sense to limit the use of electronic locks to buildings like the courthouse, the Juvenile Justice Center, and the sheriff's office, where security is critical.

The sheriff's computers were originally purchased with grants, and Supervisor Craig Brown asked if they could be replaced with RICO funds.

Holmes said he didn't know, and the sheriff was not at the meeting.

Davis also pointed out that MIS listed 446 hours of work done for non-county agencies, including MATForce and CYMPO.

"I wanted to bring out, because you have a request for more employees" - Holmes asked for two more, at $112,000 a year - "that it appears to me we're doing work that's not Yavapai County business with Yavapai County resources," Davis said. He said he wanted to see a priority put on the county's own MIS needs.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013
Article comment by: Thank You Chip

There are some County employees who have gone techno-nutso. i agree. A key is cheaper than the card system. Not every employee needs a laptop. And thank you for catching how much non County business is being done! I had no idea that MAT force etc. were siphoning off County employee time and money. Guess they better fund themselves with grants or disappear.



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