2012-11-15 / Front Page

County to face tech problems

Commissioners begin addressing aging computers, dept. requests

MANISTIQUE – Computers were one of the main topics of discussion during a recent meeting of the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners. Following discussion, a laptop purchase was postponed and four new desktops were approved by board members.

According to Audit-Finance Chairperson Dan LaFoille, a laptop was recently requested by Schoolcraft County Building Inspector Jake Rivard. In his purchase request, Rivard noted he would like to transfer his current software to a laptop and pass on his desktop to another department in need of a newer computer.

“In his field … there’s so many things that are done from a distance,” LaFoille said. “He also has to deal with things that are in color, with regard to photographs.”

The laptop, with accessories, totaled approximately $1,800, which LaFoille noted would be sufficiently covered by Rivard’s department fund. Treasurer Julie Roscioli explained Rivard had done “really well” in regard to his fund balance last year.

Commissioner Allen Grimm made a motion to approve the purchase, with support from Commissioner George Ecclesine. During a discussion period, LaFoille pointed out his apprehension about the purchase.

“I hate to start right off the year with non-budgeted items, but I can understand,” he said. “I will point this out – every single department could probably use the same thing.”

Commissioner Jerry Zellar asked whether a recent smart phone purchased by Rivard could perform the on-the-job tasks for which he was requesting the laptop. Commissioner Craig Reiter pointed out the county would be “killing two birds with one stone”, since another department would be receiving Rivard’s desktop computer.

“I’m not begrudging Jake this, because I’m sure it will be useful and make him more productive in his job,” explained LaFoille. “All I’m saying is we’ve been wanting to get a laptop for Dan (McKinney) so we have it at these meetings … it would be useful for Julie (treasurer) … probably every department … Right away we’re spending dollars, even though they’re there.”

Ecclesine questioned whether the board should wait until the end of the first quarter, which began in October, and removed his support for the purchase motion. Grimm subsequently removed his motion and made another to wait until after the first of the year to once again review the request. The motion passed with Zellar being the only “no” vote.

In other business, Roscioli explained Schoolcraft County Tax Equalization Director Paul Wood was having trouble with the computers in his department and suggested these be replaced.

“I believe they have, other than maintenance, the oldest computers in the building,” she said.

The computers in the treasurer’s office are currently three years old, Roscioli explained, and the office could purchase new computers using either the Foreclosure Fund or the Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund and pass their current computers on to Wood’s department.

“Both (funds) are healthy enough to do that,” she said. “It wouldn’t cost the general fund anything.”

In addition, Roscioli noted the Schoolcraft County Airport is currently scheduled to make an approximate $5,000 payment to the DTR to repay funds it previously borrowed. After the airport makes this payment, she explained the treasurer’s office could use that money to purchase computers.

The total cost of four computer systems would be $4,910.50. Roscioli added the computers would have to come directly to the treasurer’s office, rather than the tax equalization department, due to the origin of the funds.

Reiter made the motion to approve the non-budgeted purchase, noting the county would likely pay more money to retrieve any information lost by old computers. Ecclesine supported the motion.

LaFoille suggested the board approve the purchase out of the DTR, since the county is currently trying to build up the foreclosure fund. Commissioners approved the purchase, with the only dissenting vote from Zellar.

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