In a process that began before the current municipal government was even elected last fall, ArcTech Computers has been awarded the information technologies (IT) services contract with the Town of Hay River for the next five years – but not without some opposition on town council.
“The contractor is good and I don’t have any problem with the contract itself,” said Coun. Donna Lee Jungkind in a special council meeting on June 27. “I’m just not 100 per cent sure we know what we’re committing our ratepayers to here.”
The meeting was held to vote on two motions, the first – for which much of the discussion was held in camera to keep negotiations confidential – being the approval of either a three-year or five-year contract for IT services for the town with ArcTech Computers. The company has been handling the town’s IT needs for eight years, but its current commitment was set to end July 1. The five-year option was proposed as the better deal.
The second motion was to approve $36,000 in capital for upgrades to the current IT system. According to the recommendation put before council, the potential cost savings outlined in the contract from the first motion were contingent upon spending that money.
However, councillors did not know the exact dollar amount those savings represented, and as such, three councillors – Deputy Mayor Brad Mapes, Keith Dohey and Jungkind – opposed the contract’s approval.
“I’m hung up on some of these numbers,” said Dohey. “I think we need to have a better level of comfort around the table before we lock ourselves into a five-year contract.”
Coun. Kandis Jameson, however, was one of the four councillors who voted in favour of approving the five-year contract.
“The process is over,” she said in response to a recommendation raised by Mapes to extend the current contract two months so council could gain a clearer understanding of the finances involved. “It’s either we accept a three-year or a five-year contract, or it’s none. We have assurances that it’s in the budget and I’m comfortable with it.”
The motion to approve the capital budget was successful, with councillors Jason Coakwell, Mapes and Jungkind in opposition.
“There are no questions about the contractor at all,” Mayor Andrew Cassidy told The Hub. “The questions came up over the efficiencies in the lifespan of the contract and how much those would cost to implement. Some councillors were comfortable with it and some weren’t.”
Despite the lengthy process spanning several administrative changes, ArcTech Computers owner John Locke was pleased with the result.
“We have done our best for the past eight years,” Locke said on the steps of Town Hall just after the meeting. “And we will continue to do the best job we can for the town for the next five years.”