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Council deadline approaches to make decision on technology

The city of Sunnyside has approximately 90 days before Centurylink will cease providing fiber optic services.

As a result the city council, according to Technician Ryan Austin, needs to make some decisions regarding its technology services.

He has received proposals for fiber optic services and hardware from Charter Communications, and technology support from Yakima County.

Both proposals have been discussed in the past without a final decision, but time is running out, Austin told the council members at this past Monday night's workshop meeting.

George Helton, Yakima County's director of technology services, was on hand Monday night to discuss the matter.

"You still need a local dial tone," he said, stating the county can provide a four-digit dial service, workstation and network support and data services.

The city must, however, secure services from an outside entity like Charter for the hardware and phones.

The county's proposal for services would cost the city more than $173,000 per year.

Also included would be firewalls and virus protection, as well as help desk services.

Helton said the county would have in place an individual locally to serve the needs of the city staff.

"We're thinking it's best practice for governments to work together," he said, adding the county uses Charter for its fiber optic lines and hardware needs.

Councilman Don Vlieger asked, "What do we still have to buy?"

Helton said the county doesn't support some of the systems the city of Sunnyside uses, including EDEN and SCADA.

Those pieces of software are used for accounting and the city's wastewater treatment facility.

Austin said he is familiar with the software and because of his familiarity with the systems, the council may be more comfortable with reduced services by the county. He would support the city's financial and wastewater systems, while the county provides support for other systems like the phones and workstations.

Vlieger noted the cost of services provided to the city by Yakima County in addition to the proposed costs of Charter's services amounts to more than $200,000. As a result, he said he doesn't understand, given the information provided last night.

He believed the costs are excessive and would like further information to properly weigh the needs of the city.

Councilman Jim Restucci said the city needs at least three technology support specialists, but only has one. Because Restucci specializes in computer technology he said he is willing to work with Austin to develop a proposal that is easy to comprehend.

The council felt that was a good idea and agreed to discuss the matter at the Monday, Feb. 27, meeting.

Before the discussion ended, though, Charter Business Service's Wayne Redmond and Pat Ovenson spoke to the council.

Redmond said the council should keep in mind the proposals from the county and Charter are different.

He suggested the city create an RFP (request for proposal) so the two entities will know exactly what the city of Sunnyside's needs are.

"We don't have a list of needs," said Redmond.

Ovenson said, "(The current proposals) are about getting connectivity from Charter and support from Yakima County...the two would complement one another."

He also said Charter could have in place new fiber optic lines within 90 days of a final decision.

Austin said, emphasizing the need for a decision, "Centurylink wants us on a new solution...they aren't willing to work with us at all."

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