The City of Armstrong plans to borrow money to replace its information systems.
This year’s capital budget contained a provision of $15,000 from general revenue to replace the city’s computer equipment, based on a previous replacement cycle completed in 2009 and 2010.
The city does not have a tech department and, currently, it is chief financial officer Terry Martens who oversees all aspects of computer hardware, software, web-based programs, e-mail, virus protection and data backup.
The current city server runs on an operating system from 2008 and various workstations still run on Windows XP which has not been supported by Microsoft since earlier this year.
Martens has proposed to council to completely replace hardware at a potential cost of $40,000 to $45,000 ever five years with an annual operating cost of $25,000.
“The reason for this complete change we’re looking for is to alleviate a lot of risk,” said Martens. “Right now the risks are quite large for IT failure. We’ve been lucky so far.”
Martens said, in a report to council, that since the installation of the current server in 2010, there have been three server failures including one which caused the city to be without a functioning system for an entire week.
As there are insufficient funds in the existing capital budget to support the magnitude of a complete overhaul, Martens proposes to utilize short-term borrowing to fund one-time costs.
“We’d like to go ahead with this, this year which would mean a budget amendment as well as a short-term borrowing bylaw, borrowing over a five-year period with variable interest,” said Martens.
City council voted unanimously to support Martens’ request, and passed three readings of the short-term borrowing bylaw.
Staff is currently in the process of gathering project proposals with Martens and chief administrative officer Melinda Stickney hinting that the costs could be lower than the $40,000 to $45,000 in Martens’ report.
“When we initially started talking (about the replacement), the amounts Terry laid out were based on the initial costs from one of the proposals,” said Stickney.