Martin County eyes new technology

FAIRMONT – Martin County commissioners approved upgrading the county’s computer servers on Tuesday.

Steve McDonald, the county’s technology director, presented quotes in order to begin updating aging servers through “virtualization,” which will cut down on needed space and energy.

“Instead of having 10 individual servers, we can have one main server with 10 virtual servers in house,” he explained.

The project is already in the 2013 budget, but McDonald recommended rolling it over into 2014. At of the start of the new year, cities and counties will be exempt from sales taxes on purchases used to provide certain government services. This would save Martin County nearly $3,000 on the $41,000 bid for the new computer equipment.

“There is $45,000 already budgeted for this,” McDonald noted.

The board approved the purchase, with the bill slated to arrive after the first of the year.

Along with replacing servers, McDonald suggested software upgrades, since Microsoft will stop having tech support available next year for some of the older software still used by the county.

“There’ll be no patches, no help available to fix it,” he said.”

Software is a big budget item for many county departments. In a report to commissioners, McDonald showed that with all the different departments, the total spent on software runs more than $300,000 annually.

“It’s mind-boggling,” Commission chairman Elliot Belgard said after the meeting. “We see the department budgets, and they all have line items for software, but here it’s all put together.”

While it’s a tough price tag to stomach, commissioners realize there is no real alternative.

“There’s really no way around it,” Belgard said. “Technology is how everything gets done today.”

In other business, commissioners:

o Declined a bid of $53 for a piece of property at 320 N. Dewey St. in Fairmont.

o Tabled appointments to the citizen boards of the Martin County Economic Development Authority and parks departments. The EDA is seeking a representative to fill out the term of Dale Schumann, who died recently. The parks/trails committee is seeking a representative to fill the term of Charlie Abel, who resigned.