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City getting a major tech upgrade

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

City hall is about to be brought into the 21st century.

Pending approval from council, city staff are set to receive nearly $700,000 in new tech equipment including PC workstations, notebook computers and tablets.

As part of the city’s 2016 computer rollout and financed through a lease with Element Financial Inc, the funds including more than $430,000 worth of computer equipment (PCs, laptops, monitors, projects, and plotter and card printers), nearly $100,000 for server requirements, $65,000 for tablets and accessories and more than $90,000 for “all additional/supplemental technology acquisitions and server requirements.”

The majority of the money is set to be funded through the city’s operating budget, with any additional equipment coming from the IT reserve.

According to a city report, equipment is leased for the city and external agencies, including the Oshawa Public Library, Oshawa Senior Citizens Centre and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. By leasing the equipment, it allows the city to establish a regular replacement program, have predictable operator costs and have Element Fiancial “retain used/outdated equipment at the end of the lease and absorbs all disposal costs,” the report reads.

The contract, approved on June 13, also includes a $30,000 contingency, which had Councillor Nancy Diamond asking questions at the most recent meeting of the Finance committee.

“It’s a pretty significant factor,” she said, noting there did not seem to be much of a difference between the funds for miscellaneous items and the contingency.

Diamond learned from staff that the contingency is not really a contingency at all (which are generally put in place to cover cost overruns in the initial budget), but is in place to cover items that “don’t really fit into the tender,” said IT director Dave Mawby. He added these items generally include things like cameras or software items.

“This actually causes me more concern,” Diamond said.

However, Mawby explained the contingency was actually not a part of the leasing contract, something which Diamond hoped would be clarified moving forward.