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City's technology department budget to grow by $34,000

Things are going to remain pretty much status quo for City of Sunnyside Information Technology Manager Troy Huff in 2005.

That was the report Huff gave to the Sunnyside City Council during its budget study session this past Wednesday night.

Yet, the 2005 budget for the city's technology department is $229,890, up from $195,560 in 2004.

A majority of the increase in the technology department budget can be found in costs for capital outlays. The budget for capital outlays is $103,050, which is a dramatic increase from the 2004 budget of $17,330. The costs in this area can be attributed to software licensing and support agreements the city will be implementing this year.

Huff also has a $6,000 project planned, which involves adding a mobile computer unit to the police department.

The technology department will also have a little more than $12,000 in maintenance costs and new equipment purchases in 2005.

Huff is a one-man department within the city. Huff will be paid a salary of $53,540, which is up from his 2004 figure of $51,880.

Huff's department oversees the operation of 80 computers, seven servers and 55 printers spread throughout the city's five different buildings.

The new year won't see any major improvements being made from a technology standpoint. Huff said it will just be a matter of him maintaining what the city has in place.

"It is predominately a maintenance year," said Huff.

The city is starting to see savings from the new phone system installed a couple of years ago. Prior to the installation of the new system, said Huff, the city used to have more than 100 individual phone lines, each carrying its own features for which the city paid. Each line cost on average $50. The upgrade to the system consolidated the phone lines, which now total 48. All of the city departments with the exception of the wastewater treatment plant are connected to the new phone system. Huff is anticipating a $6,000 savings by the end of 2004 from the 2003 bill of $72,525 for local phone service through Sprint.

An interesting discussion ensued on the use of cellular phones within the city.

The City of Sunnyside currently has four cell phone carries-AT&T Wireless, U.S. Cellular, Nextel and Cellular. The city will incur $12,260 in cell phone expenses by the time 2004 ends, with a majority of the money, $8,000, going to AT&T.

City Manager Bob Stockwell said the city is implementing a cell phone allowance program for employees. He said many employees carry two cell phones now. The city is encouraging employees to use their personal cell phones. How the program works in the city, said Stockwell, is staff will figure out the type of phone plan it needs for an employee. Stockwell said the city would then give a cell phone allowance to that employee to pay the monthly bill. If an employee wanted an upgrade for their phone, the individual would pay the difference.

The Council also expressed some concern regarding Internet use. Councilwoman Bengie Aguilar asked if the city has Internet policy in place regarding how computers can be used. Huff said there is no policy in place now, but he will be working on developing one. Huff said right now the use of computers by city staff can be tracked.

The city is also working on further developing its website, so it will feature Council meeting minutes, agendas, codes and other pertinent city information.

"That is really our window out there to everybody," said Councilman Bruce Ricks.

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