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County proposes consolidating technology

7/3/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County voters will have the opportunity to decide in the Nov. 4 General Election whether county offices should consolidate information technology (IT) operations.

During their last meeting prior to a month-long annual recess, Summit County Council adopted legislation June 30 to have the proposed amendment to the county charter appear on the ballot.

The item was brought to Council by the Charter Review Commission, a nine-member group appointed by Council to review and make recommendations to the charter every five years. The other item proposed by the commission, a slight revision specifying when Council’s annual organizational meeting is to be held, also will appear on the ballot.

Currently, every county office has its own IT department and makes its own decisions, and fragmentation is driving IT costs up, according to county officials.

If voters approve the charter amendment, a county IT Board would be created, consisting of the county executive, Council president, fiscal officer, county clerk of courts, county engineer, county sheriff and county prosecuting attorney or their designees.

The board would be responsible for: developing an annual plan for county IT operations; creating a job description and hiring a chief information officer; and overseeing the IT Department.

The proposed legislation states all county employees now working in IT will be absorbed by the new IT Department, without any cuts in pay.

If the legislation is approved at the polls, the county’s IT board would convene after Dec. 15, working on the chief information officer’s job description until May 15, 2015, at the latest and hiring someone by July 1, 2015, according to the legislation.

Also at the meeting Monday, Council adopted a resolution expressing support for Gay Games 9, coming to Akron and Cleveland in August.

Council voted 9-1 to support the sporting events, with Gloria Rodgers (R-District 3) casting the only opposing vote. Paula Prentice (D-District 8) had an excused absence.

“It’s a celebration I’m unable to endorse,” Rodgers said after the meeting.

Council also adopted several pieces of legislation on first reading at the meeting, including a three-year collective bargaining agreement with county employees in the AFSCME Local 1229, retroactive to April 1.

The contract was approved by the unit June 26 by a 61-53 vote, according to Jason Dodson, chief of staff for the County Executive’s Office, which includes employees in the Department of Environmental Services, custodians, maintenance workers, officer services personnel and building standards workers.

The contract is consistent with other recent agreements from a wage perspective, Dodson said, granting 1.5 percent wage increases in the first year, 2 percent in the second year and 2.25 percent in the third year.

Other first reading passages included a contract with Mannik and Smith Group Inc. for design services for a roadway and traffic signal improvement project on South Arlington Road, from the City of Green corporate limit to the City of Akron corporate limit.

In other business, Council adopted on first reading legislation declaring July 24 Community Safety Day.

On its consent agenda, Council also adopted legislation to:

  • lease office and storage space to the Northeast Ohio Four County Regional Planning and Development Organization (NEFCO) for a five-year term beginning Aug. 1 at 175 S. Main St. in the Ohio Building;
  • declare August as Child Support Awareness Month and Kids Month;
  • purchase $350,000 worth of school supplies from Staples for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)-eligible families;
  • approve a one-year agreement starting July 1 with the county Sheriff’s Office for building security and fraud investigation services for the Department of Job and Family Services for $815,000; and
  • contract with Community Health Center to provide transitional housing services for women in recovery.

Council will next meet, following a summer recess, Aug. 4 at 4:30 p.m. for caucus, followed by a meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St. in Downtown Akron.

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