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May 7, 2014

Information technology privatization unanimously OK'd

METHUEN — The City Council last night unanimously voted to privatize the city’s information technology department after two years of debate and two failed proposals.

Corporate IT Solutions, a Norwood company, will start May 15 with a $254,705 contract that will last until June 30, 2015. The city will have the option to extend the contract another three years at $226,404 per year, according to the contract.

Four municipal IT positions, three of which are now filled, will be eliminated. One employee, John Molori, will be moved to the mayor’s office into an open position as executive secretary, recently vacated by Phil DeCologero after he launched a campaign for state representative.

Another employee, Peter Stone, is a certified master plumber and, if a position is available, could be moved to the Department of Public Works, said Mayor Stephen Zanni.

The third, director Kingsley Lough, is expected to retire.

“This is great for the city,” said Zanni, who twice tried unsuccessfully to privatize the department since taking office in 2012. “I’m thankful the council supported it unanimously.”

In January 2013, the council by a 6-3 vote rejected a proposal to hire Corporate IT Solutions for the job, citing shifting cost and savings estimates and the company’s initial assessment of the department.

Last night, two of those six “no” votes, councilors Jamie Atkinson and Lisa Yarid Ferry, backed the privatization plan. Both said they intended to pay close attention to make sure savings estimates materialize as promised.

“I have concerns regarding how this could go,” Atkinson said after the sparsely-attended public hearing and special meeting last night. “I’ll be looking closely to make sure it’s a cost savings.”

Atkinson, who was on the original committee that searched for a private IT company, said Corporate IT Solutions was “by far the best company we interviewed.”

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