EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 5, 2012

City Council pulls plug on Zanni's IT plan

METHUEN — For the second time this year, the City Council has rejected Mayor Stephen Zanni’s push for a privatized information technology department.

Seven of nine councilors voted against a measure last night that, if approved, would have cleared the way for a public hearing and eventual deciding vote on IT privatization.

Instead, the council effectively killed the mayor’s proposed reorganization of the four-employee municipal IT department — some nine months after nixing Zanni’s first attempt to hire a private IT company.

“They canned everything,” said Zanni last night. “I’m very disappointed. I felt this was a good plan. I’m sorry to see the council could not see it that way. It definitely would have benefited the city and the taxpayers.”

Zanni said the city would save $485,000 over the next four and a half years by eliminating the existing IT department and contracting instead with the private firm Corporate IT Solutions of Norwood.

The plan called for the layoff of three municipal IT employees. But several councilors said last night they would rather see the city pay for upgraded computers and equipment before making sweeping management changes.

City Councilor Sean Fountain said the city’s computer equipment is “antiquated and outdated.”

“I think (Zanni’s) on track here,” said Fountain. “I just think we need to upgrade what we have before we let it go. The utilization of new equipment will make a big difference with how we operate.”

“The equipment is old,” added Councilor Jamie Atkinson. “It doesn’t work well and needs to be replaced.”

Councilor Michael Condon said he wasn’t comfortable laying off the three employees — IT director Kingsley Lough, Network Administrator Bill Lasonde, and Information Systems Technician Peter Stone.

“I’m for the in-house guys,” said Condon. “It’s just hard for me to put three people out of work in these times. I think all these people need are the money and the tools.”

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