Several IT equipment improvements approved by supervisors
The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors has agreed to some additional IT purchases to help boost the county’s infrastructure.
During the regular meeting Feb. 7, the supervisors received an update from IT director Sonia Morrison on the progress of the upgrades approved at prior meetings.
“We have been installing cabling in the courthouse, and that project is nearly finished in this building. Following that, we’ll be able to start on some of the other departments where we needed cable clean-up and additions. All of that was in the scope of work for the project,” Morrison said.
Morrison said attempts were made to install some network switches at the courthouse on Feb. 6, but they ran into complications.
“We have to wait for a couple of pieces of hardware to get here, and then we should be able to complete the project here in the courthouse. The plan is to switch over the courthouse and law enforcement center first, since we’re going to be the main hub and the internet comes into the courthouse. After that, we’ll start branching out to the other departments and get them set up as well,” Morrison explained.
During the process, Morrison said they ran into a minor issue that will generate some further expenses.
“The new network switches are a couple inches longer than the old switches. We have some of the small wall-mounted racks in the engineer’s office, public health. The annex currently doesn’t have a rack. I need to purchase three additional wall-mounted racks. With shipping the cost is around $700 per rack. I’ve checked three different vendors, and the ones I’ve chosen are the cheapest ones,” Morrison said.
Morrison added her current IT budget should cover the cost of the additional wall-mounted racks. However, there was one piece of equipment that would require funding from the leftover funds received from the American Rescue Plan Act.
“We need a switch and some additional equipment for Anderson Conservation Area. They weren’t included in our original scope. The day we went around and looked at all the buildings to assess IT needs, we were not able to make it to the conservation building, and they did not get included in the original project. The cost of a 24 port network switch and the other equipment would be $6,795,” stated Morrison. “If we want conservation to be up to date with the rest of the infrastructure, it’s a needed expense.”
Morrison also said that Farmer’s Mutual Telephone Company of Stanton had informed her that fiber lines would be installed to the conservation area by the end of the month.
Original plans for the back-up servers and storage array were initially planned to be installed at the emergency management or public health building, requiring a cooling rack, which was expensive. Morrison was thinking of a different alternative.
“At the law enforcement center, they are upgrading their 911 equipment, which will be moved to a different rack. The existing cooling rack for the system would become mostly free, and that would provide enough room to put in the back-up set of servers and the storage array. It’s already temperature controlled, and the rack is already the right size,” advised Morrison. “We had talked about putting the back-up further away from the courthouse for safety, but that room is concrete block, and has no windows, and I honestly think it will be our best bet. I will be discussing this option with Jackie Laire, and there will be a little bit of a delay in getting it installed while we wait for the rack space to be free. However, it will save the county money in the long run because I can purchase the $700 smaller rack for public health. The cooling rack would be around $7,000 to $10,000.”
The final equipment expense involved updating the website, using ARPA funds for the initial website upgrade.
“The website covers all of the county offices. The total first-year cost for the initial upgrade would be $9,950. After that, it’s $2,800 per year, and is paid for out of my budget. Currently, we’re paying around $2,500, but the additional $300 is for add-ons that we need to have to make the website look the way we want it.”
Supervisor Mark Peterson confirmed that Morrison was looking for $6,795 for the network switch, and between $7,000 to $7,500 to cover the additional first–year cost for the website upgrade. Morrison did confirm the amount.
With the money coming from the ARPA fund, the supervisors approved the request for the network switch and website upgrades as presented.
Lastly, Morrison said she is currently serving as the HIPAA privacy officer and security officer for the county. Morrison said it was recommended that Morrison cease serving as the HIPAA privacy officer, and that she had approached Montgomery County Public Health Coordinator Samantha Beeson, as Beeson has all of the necessary documentation to serve in that capacity. Morrison said she was agreeable to taking over the position.
Supervisors Chair Mike Olson said the supervisors were in favor of the change as long as Beeson was comfortable with taking over the post.
No further action was taken by the supervisors.