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April 21, 2014

Methuen mayor will pitch IT proposal

METHUEN — Mayor Stephen Zanni plans to detail his proposal to privatize the city’s information technology department tomorrow night to the City Council, which will set a public hearing on the plan likely for later this month.

Zanni’s first major push as mayor in 2012 was to privatize the department, a halting ill-fated endeavor that lasted for about a year before being defeated by the council, which questioned shifting estimates of cost savings.

Last time, Zanni selected Corporate IT Solutions of Norwood to take over IT services. That company will be put forward again, and will give a presentation tomorrow night at the council meeting.

Council Chairman Jamie Atkinson plans to set a public hearing date soon after the meeting.

Zanni said he will explain cost and savings figures tomorrow night. Last month, he estimated the first annual payment at around $220,000 to $230,000 per year.

His plan would offer the company a one-year deal to manage information systems for City Hall, the Police Department and the Fire Department. After that year, the city could sign the company for a three-year deal and begin an assessment on the School Department’s IT with an eye toward privatizing that as well.

The council in January 2013 rejected the mayor’s proposal to pay Corporate IT Solutions $204,036 per year to manage the city’s information technology systems. Savings estimates started at $485,000 in savings over 41/2 years, but were revised upward several weeks later to $925,224 over five years.

Zanni said of the three existing city IT positions, one could retire, one could be moved to another position and the third would be cut.

This fiscal year, the city budgeted roughly $665,000 for information technology services, including about $230,000 for payroll.

In addition to IT, the council tomorrow night will consider a final settlement and new three-year contract with Police Chief Joseph Solomon, potentially ending a six-year legal battle over his termination in 2008.

They also will consider whether to form a committee to advise the stadium renovation project or to designate an existing private group for that role.

The council meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. today at City Hall.

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