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Farmington, Farmington Hills to Merge IT Services

City department heads say the new hardware and software will greatly improve the system's security and efficiency. About $130,000 of the $200,000 cost is covered by a grant.

Farmington Public Safety officers can't access some data and programs without their computers shutting down. 

City clerk Sue Halberstadt finds herself calling the Farmington Hills city clerk on election day, when she has a problem with software that contains the voter rolls. 

Over the next several months, City of Farmington employees say their departments will run more efficiently – and even more safely – thanks to an agreement to merge information technology (IT) systems with the City of Farmington Hills. Farmington officials approved 

The city will contribute about $70,000 toward the $200,000, with a $130,000 grant from the State of Michigan picking up the balance. Farmington will make an initial $35,000 payment for services to Farmington Hills, with increases of $700 to $750 annually over the 5-year term of the agreement. 

"It will help me with a couple of different things," Halberstadt told officials during Monday's city council meeting. "The greater aspect is the elections ... We run into issues we can't resolve." 

She said Farmington Hills works with the same software, and their IT department has already worked through problems with the system. 

Farmington city treasurer Chris Weber told council members that only one computer in his department is capable of running upgraded software the city purchased for its billing system. He said there's also a concern about making data available within the old system. Economic and Community Development director Kevin Christiansen said upgrading the city's geographic information system (GIS) and email are critical to his department. 

"Computer mapping is such a key information source," he said. Christiansen explained that using GIS, city officials can electronically layer information like property ownership, valuation and other data specific to a parcel, onto a map. He said the Dept. of Public Services currently stores many paper maps. 

City manager Vince Pastue said no city employees will lose their jobs in the IT merger process, although a contractor who has been managing the city's system for 18 years will be let go. Farmington Hills IT employees will be able to access Farmington computers remotely to troubleshoot problems, and funds are set aside for employee training, as well as physical system upgrades. 

Pastue said even with the increased costs of contracting with Farmington Hills, the city will be paying significantly less per capita on IT services than neighboring communities with upgraded systems. 

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