EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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November 16, 2013

With new support, Zanni again looks at IT privatization

METHUEN — Mayor Stephen Zanni’s second term promises to start much like his first — with a push to privatize the municipal Information Technology department.

IT privatization emerged as an early priority for Zanni, who took office in 2012, but the issue appeared dead after the City Council pushed back in opposition three times over the course of 11 months.

During his re-election campaign this fall, however, Zanni promised to resurrect the IT privatization debate during a second term if there is enough support among the new council, which will take office in January.

“If I get a consensus of the council, I’ll definitely move that forward again,” said Zanni. “And I’ll have my ducks in a row.”

It appears Zanni will have the support he’s looking for. The Eagle-Tribune interviewed all nine members of the new council last week and six of them said they want to see the IT department privatized.

Councilors Joyce Campagnone and Lisa Ferry said they remain on the fence. Only Councilor Jamie Atkinson said he is against IT privatization.

“I think the mayor has the votes,” said Councilor Tom Ciulla. “I definitely support privatizing the IT department. There’s definitely been some issues with that department and it’s a good thing for the taxpayers.”

The mayor believes a privately-managed municipal IT department will save money and improve the city’s computer systems. There are currently three employees in the IT department. A fourth position is being funded at $1 as a placeholder. The mayor’s recommended budget for municipal IT this year totaled $666,629.

Municipal IT Director Kingsley Lough declined to answer a reporter’s questions about privatization last week.

“I’d think I rather not talk about that,” said Lough before hanging up the phone.

Zanni’s strongest support for IT privatization may come from the three new members on the council. Like Zanni, Daniel Grayton, James Jajuga and George Kazanjian all voiced support for privatized IT during the campaign.

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