The county’s contract with a private computer firm for information technology services is proposed to increase next year.
County Information Technology Director Larry Sikes said the contract with AQM of Union is proposed to increase from the current amount of $45,072 to $47,820.
Even though the county has its own IT department, it also contracts with the private computer firm to help provide services.
While the contract with AQM is going up, Sikes said his overall budget for 2014 should be about $40,000 less than his current budget. The current year’s budget included some new servers that will not be needed next year, he added.
Under the contract, the county gets one full-time employee from AQM to assist with county computer issues such as maintenance and installation.
Contracting with AQM is probably better financially than the county bringing on its own employee, Sikes said. That is a question for the county’s payroll department, he added.
Lisa Trentmann, county human resources and payroll clerk, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Sikes said contracting with AQM prevents the county from having to provide that employee with health insurance and other benefits.
“It’s worked out very well for us,” Sikes said. “It was to our advantage to go ahead and do the contract.”
Moreover, contracting with AQM means that if the worker is absent then the computer firm could provide another one of its workers to fill in.
Sikes said the contract “hasn’t gone up in a while.”
First District Commissioner Tim Brinker supports the AQM contract, saying the company offers many resources to Franklin County.
For the past few years the contracted employee has been working full time with the county after originally starting off at just a couple of days per week.
But the county’s computer workload demanded that the contract be increased to full time, especially since the IT department’s work force has decreased significantly in the past several years, Sikes said.
There are currently six full-time county employees in the IT department and one part-time. There used to be 10 full-time workers, Sikes said.
When the recession hit, his office left vacancies unfilled after employees retired, he said.
Meanwhile, workload for the IT department has increased, Sikes said, noting that his department handles technology issues for the government center, jail, old courthouse and some at the judicial center, which is partially overseen by the state.
“We’re not short of work by any stretch of the imagination,” Sikes said.
He guesses the proposed increase is being requested for cost-of-living purposes.
The AQM contract also provides some benefits when it comes to the price of parts and AQM assistance during a catastrophe, Sikes added.