The Brooksville City Council concurred at the regular October 7, 2019 meeting that they would table the decision on hiring an outside consultant to guide their Information Technology (IT) decisions at the present time.
Council Member Robert Battista read a portion of the Request for Proposal (RFP) and said, “I think this is premature. We've used the county for quite a while. We just approved a position for a technology person to be on staff. It just seems that we had a great working relationship with the county. It worked for us."
Acknowledging Hernando County Clerk of Court Doug Chorvat, who is now the head of county IT, Battista said, "I don't know that we've heard if there is not going to be a continuing relationship with county government... If they're willing to accept us for this coming year, I have no problem in staying with them, and why go forward with (hiring a consultant) to put something on the shelf? I don't understand why we need to go out and be independent. Not at our size."
City Manager Mark Kutney explained, "There have been recommendations from some companies that we had worked with, that you probably should get a management consultant to come in and look at where you need to be in the next five years from an information technology standpoint. That's the reason why we decided to go forward with that. That doesn't mean that in the end we don't stay with the county and the clerk of the court."
"The idea is for the city to reset and figure out where it needs to go," Kutney said.
Council member Pat Brayton stated, "I don't want to spend $30,000 for a consultant to tell (the city) ‘Well this is what you ought to do in five years’ ... if that's the case, let's (hire a consultant) in three years, and we'll know where we need to be in two years. And still get there."
Council member Betty Erhard said she didn’t disagree with Battista, but saw the potential in hiring a consultant as a catalyst for growth. Comparing her laptop to neighboring Council Member Joe Bernardini's 478 page printed agenda binder, Erhard said, "I find (the laptop) to be more effective, efficient and cost-effective, and I can do more things while you guys are talking … Sometimes it's hard to let go of the way we do things, but maybe if you let something go and try something new, it could be effective, and efficient and … think of the poor person that has to make all of these binders!"
Battista expressed his confidence in the prevailing IT management to be able to provide the rest of the council with the more-efficient laptops. "But I do take some solace in the fact that county government is going with the clerk of the court to run their computer system... so if they're happy with that… as long as they’re willing to accept us ... I don't see the urgency to (hire a consultant) right now."
At the request of Mayor William Kemerer, Chorvat spoke to the council, but stated that he “does not have a dog in this fight,” and wants what’s right for the city of Brooksville, and will continue to support the city if that is their decision.
Council Member Joe Bernardini asked Chorvat if it was his practice to continually keep abreast of changes in technology and update systems accordingly. Chorvat answered in the affirmative, mentioning the council’s agenda packages as an example. “We have a software package that puts it together, we’ve been doing that since 2008 … the agenda is created, it creates the minutes, and it also creates the live feed for the video.”
When Kemerer asked Chorvat if combining the city’s IT with the county was causing additional difficulty to the county, Chorvat said, “No. We’re learning just as you are, so it would actually be benefitting everybody because we will be available and help with that process should you choose to approve this agenda item …”
Kutney added background information to the council regarding the city’s prior relationship with the county IT staff, “One of the concerns I expressed before, when it was county IT, was that county IT seemed to want to take a position of telling us what to do, and having us adhere to their standards as it related to procurement of computers… and that alarmed me because there is no way that this city could keep up financially being with being on that kind of schedule…
“It was acute when we had a lot of computers when we disbanded the police department, and thought we could put them back into service and IT … told us we needed to get rid of them. ”
Kemerer wrapped up the discussion by saying, “We’re still not really growing, so we need to marshall our resources. I’d rather see it going into new technology, versus going into a consultant.”