Council divided on software purchase
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
SALEM — City Clerk Brenda Carver’s request to purchase a new software program for the city’s computer received a mixed response from council members last night during the body’s regular monthly meeting before eventually being tabled.
Carver originally requested the program last month but the matter was tabled. During that meeting, Councilman Chuck Kramer, who was not at last night’s meeting, stated vehemently that he opposed the purchase.
Cost and need seem to be the stumbling blocks, judging from council discussion. The program costs $4,200 and there is an additional $1,100 training and installation fee.
Last night, Councilman Warren Barton was vocal in his opposition to the purchase.
“I’m totally against it,” Barton stated. “It is too much money and we don’t need it. I think it is ridiculous. If the programs are outdated, why did we put so much money into that computer?”
The council, last year, did pay for hardware upgrades for the computer.
Councilman Bill Wixom Jr. favors the purchase. “I’m still calling around to find something that will work. Our system is so outdated. The program we talked about last month is everything we want and I still think we should purchase it.”
During last month’s discussion, Carver said the software would be a great help, particularly in city financials and state reports.
“We just put a lot of money into the computer,” noted Councilman Bruce Eltrich. “I want to hear from the company.”
Carver said that money for the software purchase would not come entirely from the general fund, saying that funds from other accounts could be used for the purchase.
The council eventually voted to table the matter with Barton opposing the move. “I think we should forget it,” he said.
During the public forum part of the meeting, former Mayor Jim Onorato asked the council several questions it had difficulty answering.
Onorato asked whether adjacent property owners will be assessed for planned city sidewalk reconstruction this year. “We violated the ordinance last time and we shouldn’t do it this time,” he said, referring to the new sidewalk on the west side of the square completed last year.
“I want to know what the ordinance reads,” Onorato said, later adding he knows how the code section reads.
City Attorney Patrick Brau said the city ordinance states that the city may assess property owners for sidewalk repair.
“I know the ordinance should be assessed some of the cost. I don’t think it is right to violate the ordinance. I want to know why the city is paying for it and not the property owner. I’m not the only one concerned about it, either,” Onorato added.
The council did not answer Onorato’s query. He also asked whether the city well is fixed. Initially, the council said it didn’t know but later said it was not fixed.
In personnel matters, Steve Hoyer, the lone applicant, was hired for the back-up maintenance position. Hoyer’s salary has not been set, according to Carver.
The council briefly discussed the fiscal 2014 city budget. The budget has not been completed, Carver said, and the city has received a 30-day extension from the state, for filing the document. State law says city budgets must be filed by March 15.
Remaining business, saw the council:
• Pass the third reading and adopt a city zoning ordinance and map.
• Approve the advertisement for bids on a new city lawnmower. Last meeting, Dick Myers, city maintenance employee, presented a proposal from one firm on a new lawmower, but the council wants competitive bids. “I think we should get more than one (bid). There has to be more than one company (interested in bidding),” Wixom said.
Council members meet again in regular session Tuesday, April 2, at 7