County adopts equipment policy

ESCANABA – A new county policy approved by the Delta County Board of Commissioners will allow Delta County employees to purchase used county electronic equipment.

At Tuesday’s board meeting the board voted in a split 3-2 decision to approve a new electronic asset disposal policy that provides a guide on how to dispose of county owned electronic equipment such as computers, tablets, and cell phones.

All county assets retaining substantial value are generally to be disposed of through auction or bid solicitation, according to the policy. Capital assets with negligible value may be disposed of without going through the bidding or auction process.

The primary user of electronic equipment would have first option to purchase the equipment before it is offered to other county employees and the general public.

A bill of sale must be signed by the buyer prior to transfer of any county electronic assets, reads the policy.

Proceeds from the sale of the electronic assets are to be deposited into an electronic equipment replacement account for future equipment purchases.

According to the policy, the information technology director must determine the electronic equipment’s value “through due diligence process and approve the disposal of all county electronic assets with a value under $500.”

Items valued at more than $500 would require board approval prior to disposal.

Board Chairman Tom Elegeert, Vice-Chairwoman Mary Harrington, and Commissioner Ann Jousma Miller voted in favor of the new policy.

Commissioners Dave Rivard and Dave Moyle were in opposition.

“It states in here that the primary user of the electronic equipment has the first opportunity to purchase the electronic equipment,” said Rivard. “I feel that that leaves opportunity for people that – and I’ll use a computer as an example – may want that computer, could damage it or misuse it or do something to it, and then it goes up for sale and it could be fixed easily and very cheaply.”

Rivard said he also checked with another local municipality and they have a policy not to sell anything to its employees.

“They have access to equipment and they use it until it’s basically dying or dead or has very little value,” he said. “They usually donate it to a non-profit that still could get a little bit of use out of it but can’t afford it.”

Moyle said he supports the sale of any used equipment but wanted to avoid being accused of playing favorites.

“The chance of having somebody say about the county or the commissioners that ‘Yeah, they’re just taking care of their own,’ you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s going to happen somewhere,” he said. “I would suggest that we try to shield ourselves from giving somebody that opportunity just by giving everyone the same shot.”

Harrington said she agreed with Rivard on equipment over $500, but had a different opinion on less expensive equipment.

“For smaller items, I don’t have a problem with the primary user having the opportunity to purchase it at fair market value,” she said.

“Another thing is I think if you can get some money for some used equipment and put it back into your technology fund instead of just giving stuff away all the time, you’re investing and keeping your technology as current as you can,” she said.

The board also approved a $202,000 settlement agreement and release of claims regarding a past due rent account with Pathways Community Mental Health.

Delta County Administrator Nora Viau said the on-going issue first arose after a former county commissioner allegedly promised Pathways would not have to pay their full rent amount in the space they rented at the Delta County Service Center. However, it was a verbal, and not a written, agreement.

The board voted to settle for the $202,000 amount from Pathways in a 4-1 vote with Rivard in opposition.

“I’ve expressed myself several times at meetings that I oppose this,” he said. “I still oppose it and will continue to oppose it…This problem went on for 11 years and neither party caused it, but it meant that we should be able to rectify it back to a fair and just settlement. I don’t think giving $200,000 of $400,000 is a just and fair settlement.”

In other business, the board:

– approved the Register of Deeds (ROD) backloading project through April 30, 2014. The backloading project involves the scanning and indexing of paper documents not currently on computer using Automation Funds that are spent solely at the discretion of the ROD. The Automation Fund takes in approximately $40,000 per year. In the past it has been used to purchase the current ROD software and hardware, server, and a scanner/microfilmer, as well as annual maintenance costs of this equipment. Currently the ROD office has backloaded to 1975 as part of the backloading project, with a goal of 1970.

– approved a contract for professional engineering services by Prein & Newhof of Grand Rapids for three upcoming projects at the Delta County Airport using the airport’s $1 million in Federal Aviation Administration funding. The projects include runway lighting rehabilitation, brand-new signage on runway 9/27 and purchasing a new snow plow.

– approved sending a letter to UPCAP requesting an amendment to the bylaws of the U.P. State Fair Authority to allow an authority member to appoint an alternate. According to the letter, the requested change would “protect the interests of all members and insure the smooth transaction of regular Authority business.” The board approved the measure 4-1, with Rivard in opposition, feeling the change was unnecessary.

– approved forming a committee to create a social media policy, represented by the administrator, information technology, airport manager, and a commissioner, following the request by the Delta County Airport to start a Facebook page.

– appointed John Denholm to the Construction and Zoning Board of Appeals to act as a liaison between the Board of Appeals and Planning Commission. This makes the Construction and Zoning Board of Appeals a seven-member board instead of a six-member board.

– approved a proclamation declaring March 2014 as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month at the request of the Delta Regional Inclusive Community Coalition.