Thursday, February 19, 2009

IT Post Gets Initial Approval

Random winter image: Amaryllis

The City Council took the first step Monday toward creation of a cabinet-level technology post, but members said they need a lot more information before final passage.

The administration is pushing for establishment of the post within the current budget year that ends June 30.

"It is a position we need," City Administrator Marc Dashield said Monday. "The IT department does not exist."

The ordinance that passed on first reading Monday creates the title of "Director of Data Processing" with a salary range of $95,500 to $130,400. It will be up for second reading, public hearing and final passage on March 2. Council President Rashid Burney said creating the title is the first of three steps, the other two being funding the title and hiring someone.

Dashield said an IT director is needed to plan out the future of technology in city government.

The city has struggled with various approaches since the late 1980s, most recently trying a shared services agreement with the Plainfield school district that ended last summer. Council members said they still want to look into shared services, but they also want to know the full costs of staffing an IT department. Councilwoman Linda Carter said she wants the "total picture" before the next vote. Councilwoman Annie McWilliams said while all agree that information technology is vital in order for the city to grow, she wants to know how costs will be offset. Councilman Adrian Mapp said the administration must explain "fully loaded costs" for an IT department and abstained at roll call.

"We have just a slice of the picture," he said.

Councilman Cory Storch noted there will be two weeks before a final vote and said he wanted a "high-level view" of what the department will look like when in place.

Currently, there is just a one-person "help desk" in City Hall, according to the administration.

If a director is hired at the maximum salary, he or she would be near the very top of the city government pay scale. Click here for a description of the job as listed on the web site of the Civil Service Commission, which has supplanted the state Department of Personnel.

It is unclear where an IT department would fit in with the organizational structure called for in the city's 1968 special charter, which mandates three departments under the city administrator: Public Affairs and Safety, Administration and Finance, and Public Works. All divisions fall under one of the three departments, although the administration of the late Mayor Albert T. McWilliams created a de facto Economic Development department with the Planning and Engineering divisions within it.

The March 2 meeting will take place at 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Engineering Division was still in Public Works under Al's terms. The Office of Economic Development just initiated several commercial and industrial area improvement projects (Downtown and South Ave streetscapes, North Ave industrial corridor street and sewer reconstruction)because no one else was planning or building any infrastructure improvements in these areas. Recruiting businesses and developers to Plainfield was hard enough without them seeing the deteriorated condition of these locations. At least we could offer visible improvements, including reducing flooding possibilities on North Ave, as an enticement. By the way -- we had money from the NJDOT committed to the second phase of the Downtown Streetscape when I left 3+ years ago. I imagine the city lost the grant as the project never went forward.
Pat Ballard Fox

12:22 PM  
Blogger Bernice said...

To the anonymous bloviator at 12:20 p.m. - get your own blog and stop dumping your junk on other people's blogs.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Courtney said...

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3:00 PM  
Blogger TwoSmokinBarrels said...

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3:54 PM  

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