New technology, phone system approved by Clare Council

June 21, 2019

By Pat Maurer

Thanks to a Rural Development grant of up to $46,200, the City of Clare will be getting new desktop and laptop computers, network switching equipment, operating system software — a total cost of $89,250.84 and a new telephone and voicemail system at a cost of $5,800. The City Commission approved the two purchases Monday evening, agreeing to pay the City share of $43,050.84, approved in the 2019-2020 budget. The Data Processing Fund.

Acting City Manager, Treasurer, Finance and Technology Director Steven Kingsbury recommended the technology purchase, saying, “The City of Clare’s computer technology is quite aged and has reached the end of its useful life. Most of the City’s desktop and laptop computers and all of its network switching equipment are ten years old or older. The operating system software and all of the user computer is ending its useful life (January 2020) and the productivity software used for word processing, spreadsheets, electronic main, etc. has already passed it is service support expiration.”

At the meeting he noted that the normal time for servers is five years and computer software is 8-10 years. “Our software is from 2007 and no longer supported,” he said. “We have been saving for this purchase.”

The Citywide telephone and voicemail system purchase was approved with Winn Telecom and will provide a fully integrated telephone and voicemail system for all City offices including handsets, equipment installation and voicemail system.

Kingsbury said the purchase includes a five-year extension of the current telephone and fiber transport services agreement with them. The annual cost of the lease is $1,373.40. The proposal includes the installation of a completely equipped, hot swappable base system that would be kept in Winn’s inventory and installed if the City’s system ever failed.

Another lease, for a Pitney-Bowes folding and envelop insertion machine was also approved Monday evening to replace a 2005 folding machine purchased from Automated Business Machines.

The five-year lease to own contract will cost $1,373 annually for a total of $6,867.

Kingsbury said the current equipment “was simply not working as it should even after being serviced on a regular basis and was replaced…but over the past couple of years it has consistently had difficulty with even simple folding jobs.” He recommended that the Commission approve the sole source lease to own agreement saying, “There are only a couple of manufacturers of this type of equipment for volume of use that we need.”
A Ferguson Waterworks utility meter reading device (Neptune AMR system) completed the evening’s purchases.

Kingsbury recommended the purchase, including a one-year service agreement and the software (an annually cost of $2,600), totaling $8,634. The cost includes the interface software and training costs. Kingsbury said the original equipment was read by two electronic handheld devices. “One stopped functioning some time ago and the second is now demonstrating characteristics that it may also be failing.” He said the purchase of the new device was included in the 2019-20 budget.”

In his Treasurer’s Report to the Commission Kingsbury said, “Earlier this week I completed the annual report for the Downtown Development Authority to request reimbursement from the state for the lost personal property taxes in the DDA District. The report has been accepted by Treasury and will be validated. The actual reimbursement, $5,770, … is almost $1,000 greater than in 2018.” He said the reimbursement would be made in October.

Kingsbury also gave an update on the Little Tobacco Intercounty Drain Improvement Project. He said, “This week we learned that the $2.2 million Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant applied for by the Little Tobacco Intercounty Drain Board has been approved.” The grant is for the purchase and demolition of 22 structures encroaching upon and restricting the flow of the Little Tobacco Drain.” He said the projected property tax revenue loss to the city for the properties is just under $14,000 — $11,000 from the General Fund, $1,900 from street and just under $500 for Parks. He added tht a late 2020 start for the estimated $7.5 million project is anticipated, although the Michigan Department of Transportation has started their required work with the replacement of the box culverts under US-10.

In the City Manager’s Report, Kingsbury noted that the City was awarded a $20,000 grant from the Saginaw Bay Watershed for the Emerald Isle Recreation Complex. Half will be used for development of the natural nature areas of the complex and half will be used as matching fund towards a $60,000 Department of Natural Resources Passport Grant which will purchase in install playground equipment at the complex.

In financial matters, the Commission approved budget amendments to the 2018-19 year budget, what Kingsbury called “housekeeping type budget amendments,” as part of the “year-end cleanup.” Expenditure increases were in the General Fund, Major Street Fund, Local Street Fund and Municipal Street Fund, the Parks and Recreation Fund, DDA, Sidewalk Replacement Fund, Police Training, Sewer and Water System Funds and the Mobile Equipment funds. Some of the changes related to drone training, and collective labor contract negotiations, personnel matters and tax tribunal defense.

He also noted that East State Street will be closed temporarily to complete new water and sewer connections for the new Mercantile Bank Building.
During Public Comment, Shamrock Lake residents Vince and Elaine Demasi voiced their concerns over the City’s decision not to use weed control in the lake this year. Vince said, “I’m surprised at this 11th hour decision. I don’t understand why you made the decision. It’s (the lake) a mess. For years the association has been dealing with this. Now, when the City takes over, you decide not to do it.”

Elaine added, “We’ve paid a special assessment (for weed control) for years. We’ve paid taxes and our assessment. I’m more than disappointed – we trusted you.”

Vince added, “Any kind of treatment would help.”

Clare Mayor Pat Humphrey told the couple, “We are not going to be able to do anything tonight.”

In other business at the meeting Monday:

*The Commission approved a deadline extension to the Hammerberg Donation Committee to determine the best uses for the $180,000 bequest to the City.

*Approval was given for the Northern Michigan Mutual Aid Reciprocal Law Enforcement Agreement which will add mutual aid from neighboring counties that are now in the current agreement with the City.

*Approval was given to establish a Water Plant Improvement Project bank account.

*The commission approved bills totaling $110,994.81.

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