Washington County officials hear network update

MARIETTA – A resident whose wife works in the Washington County Courthouse expressed concern over the performance of the in-house information technology department during Thursday’s county commissioners’ meeting.

County IT Director Eric Skomra said the systems implemented by the department are a vast improvement over what was available previously, and he and the other two employees in the department are committed to making sure the service benefits county employees and taxpayers.

“We have made such a huge volume of advances because there has never been a consolidated (department),” Skomra said.

Gary Doan, a Muskingum Township trustee, said his wife and other courthouse employees were frustrated over the time it took to resolve some IT issues. He said he was bringing this and other issues to the commissioners because he had time to come to the meeting and no qualms about speaking his mind.

“It would seem like to me, from the outside looking in … the service is not up to par with the money spent,” Doan said.

He cited one example in which a system in the clerk of courts office was down for more than two hours. Skomra said that was a case where county employees had to wait for a vendor to access the program and were unable to address the problem themselves.

In the past, Skomra said, some county computer systems were down for entire days.

The commissioners set aside $350,000 for the establishment of the IT department in 2010 and voted to hire Skomra at an annual salary of $65,000.

Commissioner Tim Irvine indicated support for the department.

“I feel like they started from scratch, from zero, and I feel it has come a tremendous way,” he said.

Skomra noted that IT needs are handled in-house for all but two county departments, and one of those may be switching over soon. A new system will be going online in April for the clerk of courts, common pleas and juvenile and probate courts, operating out of a single server instead of two or more devices.

“We are saving multiple thousands of dollars on this particular project because we are able to work together,” he said.

In other business, the commissioners signed off on a 2012 data sheet the Community Action Bus Line is required to submit to the Federal Transit Administration.

The document shows a reduction in total operational funding from $420,802 in 2011 to $391,169 in 2012, despite an increase in state funding. Community Action executive director David Brightbill said the City of Marietta saw a decrease in its Community Development Block Grant funding and had to make a corresponding cut to the money it provides for the bus line. That in turn reduced the amount of federal money CABL could draw.

An employee was laid off and a route eliminated, leading to an overall reduction in the number of miles traveled and trips made for the year.

Brightbill told commissioners last week service would remain the same this year.