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Selectmen debate end of the year technology fund projects

Date: 6/15/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM As the town moves from fiscal year 2009 (FY09) into fiscal year 2010 (FY10), a few groups are seeking to gain some last minute funding from the Technology Fund to pay for upgrades for the future.

On June 1, Paula Dubord, Assistant Director of Elder Affairs, came before the Board of Selectmen to request additional funding from the town to pay for the My Senior Center system, which would allow those who use the senior center to check in using a scan card and sign up for programs using a computer, rather than sign up on paper, which is the current system. The system would also make it easier for senior center staff to keep track of data.

The system would come with a server connection, a touch screen monitor and a camera.

Dubord said the full cost for the system is about $9,000, and more than half of that cost would be covered by a grant. She implored that the remaining balance be paid for out of the Technology Fund.

"This program would save the director 30 to 40 percent of her work," Nathan DeLong, Director of Information Technology for the town, stated. "It's also received rave reviews from other towns, including East Longmeadow."

The Finance Committee recommended using technology funds to help pay for the program, and the Board of Selectmen approved of the deal at their June 8 meeting.

Still on the table is the question about using technology funds to help pay for a new multipurpose desk at the Wilbraham Public Library. Christine Bergquist, Library Director, approached the Board of Selectmen last Monday evening to ask if technology funds could be used for this part of the library's renovation.

"We need to create a centralized service desk to work more efficiently and free up space," Bergquist explained. There are currently three separate desks in the library, for reference, circulation and the children's department.

Bergquist said the new desk would be "the heart of the library." The cost for the new desk is approximately $27,000, and the Friends of the Wilbraham Library have pledged $15,000 over the next four years toward its completion. A grant from Library Improvements for Tomorrow Inc. (LIFT) would cover another $4,000 $8,000 was being requested from the town.

"We can't think of a better use for [our funds]," Roger Schifferli, president of the Friends, said.

Bergquist added that if things go well, the new desk could be completed by the end of the calendar year.

All three selectmen were in favor of the new desk project, but wondered what the project had to do with technology. Bergquist mentioned the new computers that would be housed within the desk and the increased productivity of staff. "It's a service-oriented change," she stated.

Selectman James Thompson said the request may be in a "gray area," and chair David Barry told Bergquist that she "may need a plan B" when it comes to funding the project.

If the new desk funding does not come from the technology fund, it could potentially come from capital planning monies.

Barry said he'd like to see the funding sorted out by June 15, the day of the continuance of the Annual Town Meeting.