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City approves IT equipment purchase

By Karen Huber

The city will be installing some new equipment in the IT Department that is expected to be up and running the end of February that will enhance the way they do business.

West Fargo City Commissioners approved Monday night the purchase of IT equipment and software, along with a budget amendment for 2012 of $67,232 to cover the expense. The current budget had contained $30,900 for the area.

City Administrator Jim Brownlee told the board, the action will allow the city to acquire software that will improve the process for tracking requests from developers and the public including items such as plats, building plan reviews, license and registrations, and code enforcement.

The software will also replace the city's current ticketing system with the public with a more integrated system that has additional features over the current system. Cost is $28,475 with an additional

maintenance cost of $24,000 per year that will be built into the IT department.

The city will also replace a server that will allow for more storage and have a disaster recovery feature that replicates the data to another location. Cost for this system is $61,523. Brownlee said this will allow for a server at City Hall and the other at the Public Works Department on 12th Avenue North, and assurances that the city will have no loss of data or the use of programs in the event one of the servers goes down.

The final part of the request was $8,134 to purchasing additional licensing from Microsoft to ensure that all city computers are licensed. Reserves in the General Fund will be used to cover the amendment. The board also okayed an amendment to the 2011 budget.

Commissioner Mike Thorstad said he felt the action a good one, signaling that the city is "really moving ahead." He also lauded the automatic reporting, describing it as a valuable feature, and noted that an update of the city's website is presently underway that will make the site even more user friendly than it is.

City Planner Steve Zimmer said the best thing about it is that there is no contract and an unlimited amount of user accessibility. "If we don't like it, we can get out and go with someone else."

The commission also approved a request from West Fargo Park District Executive Director Barb Erbstoesser to support a Memorandum of Understanding for a feasibility study of a proposed Community Center and Aquatics Facility that was addressed at a joint meeting of city, parks and school officials a week ago. (See details in related adjacent story).

The study which will include representatives from all three entities with focus on: creating a timeline for the work of the joint group; determining the components to include in such a facility; identifying potential locations; determining an estimate of initial construction costs and annual operational costs; identifying potential funding sources for capital construction and covering annual operational costs; and suggesting a model for the potential governance structure to manage the operations of the facility.

Erbstoesser said that this study should help pave the way for what the wants and needs are for such a facility in the community. "Instead of us doing our own thing, this will be a collaborative effort with one common goal."

She did she didn't yet have a definition for what the center would be but added the park District is interested in having some outdoor waters as part of the project. "We feel outdoor waters are very important to us." She said no matter, what the end result "We'd like to see something that West Fargo will be very proud of will and make it a great value for family fun that can be found right here in our community."

She explained that a prominent citizens group has been rallying for the cause and will be involved along with other members of the public once the feasibility topics have been addressed.

Pointing out the value of dedication to the planning process, Commissioner Duane Hanson said he felt it "important that somebody grabs a hold of it and pushes everybody along."

Erbstoesser said that will be the case as the three entities involved have "a great feeling of commitment."

Thorstad also stressed the importance of citizen input and feedback "To see what people desire and what they are looking for."

Erbstoesser said a survey would be going out in March to secure more information.

It was agreed that Brownlee would be the city liaison on the group, providing updates to the commission as progress unfolds.

In other action, the commission:

-following a public hearing at which nobody voiced objection, approved a resolution for the assessment list for Sidewalk District No. 6049.

- okayed Dean Vierkamp as the new manager of Goodfella's, located in the Eagle Run Plaza, after a background check by the West Fargo Police Department revealed no adversity to the request. -approved an updated site plan for the new Costco building that will be located along Veterans Boulevard and I-94. The change involves sliding the building 100 feet to the east as a better way of dealing with soil issues. The move will allow for added employee parking on the west side of the building.

-favored a request from developers of Shadow Wood 5th Addition, involving a street name change from Third Street East to Shadow Wood Lane East and for Violette Place East to 35th Avenue East. Police Chief Arland Rasmussen said the police department was okay with the adjustments.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, Feb. 6, at 5:30 p.m. in the Commission Chamber at West Fargo City Hall, 800 4th Ave. E. all meetings are open to the public.