01/24/18 — Upgrades questioned at meeting

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Upgrades questioned at meeting

By Rochelle Moore
Published in News on January 24, 2018 5:50 AM

A staff request to purchase $850,000 in computer-related upgrades came under question during the Goldsboro City Council meeting Monday.

Councilman Bevan Foster asked for more detail regarding the purchase, including a breakdown of the different types of computers, laptops and other equipment.

Foster asked for the details after learning that the city, during one of its previous computer upgrades, paid close to $3,800 per laptop.

"I just want to see the actual breakdown for each (item)," Foster said. "I would like to see a breakdown on that before I make a decision."

The largest cost of the upgrade proposal include 90 laptops for police and fire vehicles, at $360,000, or $4,000 per laptop.

Also on the list are 40 network upgrades for all city facilities, at $350,000. Other purchases include $60,000 for network storage, a $30,000 phone system upgrade, $16,000 security system upgrades and $34,000 for virtual environment servers, format plotters and printers and 20 uninterruptable power supply, UPS, units.

Mayor Chuck Allen questioned the purchase he said would more commonly be an item for review during the council's annual budget review.

Kaye Scott, Goldsboro finance director, said the upgrades are included in budget requests. Scott Williams, Goldsboro information technologies director, also said the upgrades are within the capital improvement plan.

"These are pretty big expenditures, collectively, and if we want to spend a million dollars ... tell us at budget time," Allen said.

Staff agreed to send members of the council a more detailed breakdown of the purchases and will take up the issue again in February.

Scott said the city would like to move forward with a lease purchase agreement in March, with SunTrust Bank, and finance the purchase at a 2.8 percent interest rate for 59 months, nearly five years.

The city started working on updating its network in 2012, with improvements and financing secured in 2012, 2013 and 2016, Scott said. Loan payments for 2012 and 2013 were recently paid in full, Scott said. The city is still paying close to $94,000 annually for the 2016 upgrades, Scott said.

The upgrades are proposed due to some of the city's network having problems and no longer being under warranty, the system is technically difficult to repair and repair parts are hard to find, Williams said.

No decision was made on the purchase, and city staff will present purchase options to the council in February.

The council also voted to pursue an intergovernmental agreement with Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to provide commercial trash pickup service.

City staff have been in preliminary discussions with base officials to provide commercial trash pickup and the collection of recyclables at base facilities and offices. The agreement would not include residential trash service.

Foster questioned the initial costs, which include $232,780 each year for five years to pay for equipment, including trash-service vehicles, dumpsters and rollout containers, and the hiring of another city employee, a $50,000 to $52,000 annual cost in pay and benefits, said Rick Fletcher, Goldsboro public works director.

Foster initially asked to wait two weeks so he could receive more information about the costs and agreement. Fletcher told the council that it would take another month to work through negotiations with base officials, which needed to know if the city is interested before seeking another service provider.

"Anything we can do to partner with the base and make it stronger, we need to do," Allen said.

Councilman Mark Stevens made a motion in favor of a letter of intent, which is nonbinding, to pursue negotiations.

Prior to the Monday night meeting, the council was provided with a summary of the proposal, along with estimated expenses and revenues. After the first five years, the city stands to collect nearly more than $168,000 each year in extra revenue from the deal.

The agreement is also expected to include reimbursement from the base, if for any reason the service agreement is canceled, Fletcher said.