Budget deliberation: IT overhaul emerges as Paradise Valley priority

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins during the April 26 study session at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, where the local governing body continued to dissect its operating budget. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Paradise Valley Town Council’s second budget discussion this spring didn’t reveal too many surprises, but it did allow for a financial peek behind the municipal curtain.

During an April 26 study session, the elected leaders picked up their conversation from earlier in the month where town officials depicted a rosy financial picture for Paradise Valley.

Mostly, the council was intrigued to learn from their new Information Technology Chief Information Officer, Steven Brunasso, that their networks were running on nearly-stone age technology. This tech system includes one old computer that the police department phone line is on, and obsolete 2003 Microsoft Office products.

Mr. Brunasso classified the town’s IT complexity as unstable, which he defined as an inability to provide reliable business services.

The introductory overview previously included Town Manager Kevin Burke’s recommended budget for fiscal year 2018-19, while the April 26 discussion was mainly comprised of staff presentations on their individual budgets.

The council’s meeting officially started at noon that day with an executive session before rolling up their sleeves on the budget later in the afternoon.

Overall, Mr. Burke says revenues are up and expenses are down within the Town of Paradise Valley.

Mr. Burke is proposing total expenditures next fiscal year at $47,378,569 while the municipality’s General Fund, which accounts for 65 percent of the all-funds budget, is estimated to be $30,618,530.

Areas of note during the conversation included the end of resort trolleys, contracting town prosecutors and municipal health insurance rates.

The town council appeared to have few questions on the presentations, besides commenting on various aspects of the inner-workings of various departments.

Information Technology

A view of Paradise Valley Police Department’s information technology areas. (photo by Town of Paradise Valley)

Mr. Brunasso has been employed by the town for about three months, he noted at the start of his presentation.

The network is comprised of approximately 70 servers and 120 computers for about 90 employees, town staff said. Mr. Brunasso says he plans to decrease that type of equipment.

Pictures of the current environment at Town Hall, the police station and the server station showed a tangle of cords.

“What’s interesting about all this cabling mess that you see, our logical systems are a lot like this — the same as what you see, the cabling, unfortunately — and they shouldn’t be,” Mr. Brunasso said.

“They should be simple and easy to maintain. I’m trying to clean all that up and simplify.”

The police station’s tangled wire mess is the criminal justice information system, Mr. Brunasso explained.

“Again, a mess,” he said. “This is our late 90s phone system. If we go down we lose PD.”

Mr. Brunasso says the town’s IT system is struggling to stay alive because of its complexity.

“There was a question about email, which should have been maybe a two-hour cut over max, became like a two-week cut over,” he said, explaining the various platforms the town uses.

Various programs used throughout town offices included Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010, 2013 and 2016, but he said there’s up to 20 client configurations.

Mr. Brunasso says the town’s property isn’t even worth stealing.

“One of our staff’s houses was robbed in the safest part of town, and stole everything in his house. The Dell that I had issued, they pushed that aside and took everything else,” he joked.

The IT budget increase is estimated to increase 4.9 percent, by $83,870.

Public works

For public works, the revelation there are more than 3,000 signs throughout town was surprising to some.

The public works department is responsible for services that affect the daily lives of those who live and work in the town, including planning, maintenance, construction management and technical engineering.

The public works budget summary is slating a 31 percent expenditure decrease from fiscal year 2017-18.

“We are decreasing our budget by $1,716,000, the decrease is primarily due to the Tatum resurfacing project,” Public Works Supervisor Jerry Cooper said in his presentation to council.

“We’re asking for a little bit here, in utilities, we’re asking for an additional $10,877. This increase is due to the new police communication council, extra fodder, extra electricities at that facility,” he said.

The department is also seeking to use $20,740 for backup batteries at all the signalized intersections, among other services for police communication towers.

Additionally, Mr. Cooper pointed out $58,260 designated for street data collection.

“This has to be done every five years, this is where we bring in a company that runs a laser surface tester van that evaluates the condition of our pavement,” he said.

“This is what determines that streets and what types of surface treatments, and when, those streets will receive what types of surface treatments and when.”

Mr. Cooper outlined accomplishments this past year, including replacing 2,400 signs, completing 896 work orders, resurfacing 20 miles of streets, cleaning and videotaping storm drains and culvert pipes.

Mayor and council

Councilwoman Julie Pace (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Paradise Valley’s elected officials also have a budget and workload indicators. Their budget is slated to increase by $38,000, Mr. Burke says.

The net increase includes:

  • $25,000 to upgrade the council chambers’ audio/visual equipment;
  • $1,000 for recognition programs;
  • $5,000 for printing the town resident’s guide
  • $2,400 for a new conference table;
  • $1,750 for photography services
  • $1,300 for art and historical committees

Mr. Burke noted that a majority of these expenditures do not occur every year.

The big-ticket item on the list, the upgrade to the council chambers, is to include better equipment to record the audio and visual from various meetings from Board of Adjustment to town council.

Town Clerk Duncan Miller explained that the Hillside Committee rolls their plans across the table, which can blanket the microphones, while Board of Adjustment hosts their meeting in the study session room, where audience participation is hard to pick up on the audio systems.

Additionally, Councilmember Julie Pace pitched an idea to host two legislator happy-hour-type mixers.

Her colleagues appeared to support the idea, agreeing inviting legislators to see the uniqueness of Paradise Valley would be valuable. Support for slating $5,000 for the events was given by the council.

News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be reached by e-mail at mfittro@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MelissaFittro

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