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Township Hiring IT Pro to Tackle Tech Issues

Township manager Scott Carew said the township has been getting by with an outside firm for the last several months—but it's just not the same.

The township has been getting by since losing its information technology (IT) professional last fall, but it hasn’t always been pretty, according to township manager Scott Carew.

Township staff have periodically grappled with downed email and wonky phones since former IT professional John Polkiewicz left last September, and while the township has a contract with IT firm Ancero, it’s just not the same.

“It’s not that we have problems with them … They’re doing what we expected them to do,” said Carew. “But it is very different than having someone here.”

The township’s pays Ancero a $5,130 flat fee each month for general maintenance—Polkiewicz was making roughly $80,000 annually, according to township financial officer Tom Merchel—and while most work falls under the terms of that contract, unexpected tech hiccups can result in extra fees, not to mention lengthy downtime, explained Carew.

“This is just how the world of IT outsourcing works,” he said. “When you have someone with engineer-level expertise like John, your downtime is tremendously lowered.”

Additionally, having an IT professional in-house would allow the township to be proactive, rather than reactive, Carew said. Staff could develop a long-term plan and keep an eye on the latest technology and how it could benefit the township.

Council gave Carew permission this week to hire a new professional. He expects to bring someone on in the next few months.

“It’s something we need to do soon,” he said, mentioning how critical the position will be once the township begins to transition into the new town hall/library building, as well as assisting with the reboot of the township website.

Carew said he has been working with QScend—the firm that helped design the current website—to develop a plan to make the site more efficient and user-friendly, and use it as a tool to market Moorestown to potential businesses.

He said the primary reason for rebooting the website is so the township can more effectively inform and communicate with residents.

"We want the site to be easily and logically navigated," he said. "We don’t want residents going on our website, looking for specific information, and not being able to find it … And we need to make sure our information is kept current."

Jenn Allen January 19, 2013 at 12:34 PM
So Garwood and Napolitano keep a campaign promise right off the gate with a website redesign and with using it to promote business. I'm glad to see that for a change from our elected officials.
Yah Mo B There January 19, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Yeah this was my #1 issue. Nothing let setting the bar high out of the gate. GREAT JOB!
Rick January 19, 2013 at 01:57 PM
Glad to hear it ...... current website is tough to click around can't find what I need on there..... good job council!
Serious Cash January 19, 2013 at 02:06 PM
We didn't see what salary this individual was going To be paid? Items up for bid? The website needs to be interactive. Possibly have a Facebook page, twitter, etc. get Ito the game, get engaged, eh? And when the the bidding is over and we get the right tech guy or gal we can hit the road running with this stuff.
Accountability January 19, 2013 at 02:08 PM
lets not overrreat to this piece of news. this is merely telling us that the town is replacing a guy who resigned last fall. this is not a campaign pledge being realized...yet. now if the new guy can build upon what is in place improve it and make the town more user fiendly then maybe that's a fulffilled campaign pledge. lets start with paying taxes online
Serious Cash January 19, 2013 at 02:17 PM
We want to pay water sewers and disposal bills online too. Must say acct you are taking a page out of a former council men's request to pay taxes online. So don't think you're the first to think of that. Although you must note would that be a serious cash up charge for that sort of thing? Hmm.. You gotta wonder...
Accountability January 19, 2013 at 02:37 PM
im not sure i get how paying bills online is a serious cash upfront deal. doesnt the town already do it a litlte bit? what other online issues can be solved besides bill paying and user friendly websites?
Serious Cash January 19, 2013 at 03:20 PM
I'd say we get advice from some the sports orgs? As an example, The MYBF has a "user friendly" website... They recently had a hiccup with registration I understand but, a tech pro to the rescue, it was back up in no time! Paying bills there is a snap! Now if the baseball federation can do right, so should the towns site. Should 80K sound reasonable for a town IT guy? Did council or town manager look into shared services with the BOE? Would the BOE object?
M'town Truth January 19, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Paying this person $80,000 a year plus all the benefits sounds like a pretty high salary, to me. I base this on what my spouse earns after eleven years employment for much more complicated programming work with one of the biggest tech firms in NJ. This job could be done by someone with far less experience, for less money, IMO. Of course it depends on how many units/users will be dependent on one person for fixes, how much web design will be done, how fast response times need to be, etc. etc. etc.
Gayle January 19, 2013 at 04:10 PM
I totally agree. Has anyone looked at how good the school's website is and how they communicate. Compared to the township, the school seems light years ahead. Why reinvent when you can work together and save money. I know when they visited my home last fall, the candidates told me they would share services. Here is the right time and right topic. Instead, I am reading about government hiring more and more people. We also own a 2nd home in OC and they allow online tax payments. I have friends in Mt Laurel who pay online. I can't believe how a town like ours is so behind all the others. That could explain why they are building a new town hall so people have to go there to pay their taxes.
Pete January 19, 2013 at 04:38 PM
The comment "grappled with downed email and wonky phones" is the root of the issue. Those few words are virtually hidden in the article, which proclaims that the problem is one of personnel. QUESTION: Why should computer problems have an impact on the phones and vice-versa? The answer is in my next post.
Pete January 19, 2013 at 04:39 PM
ANSWER: Not many people are aware that a few years ago, some idiot-in-charge made a decision to install the most asinine configuration that combines telephone and computer operation in one integrated system. When a PC on someone’s desk goes bad, the phone is also down, and sometimes several PC/phones in the rest of the room. There is one massive control panel in a single location that manages all the data (and phone) flow. Makes no sense to me. Of course, the person responsible for maintenance has to be an expert in this unique system and not just “another IT person”. With this kluge system, we will continue to spend excessive maintenance labor and hardware money in the future, no matter who is doing the work, in-house or sub-contract. It’s time that we get rid of that g**-awful mess and replace it all with a system that is simple and separates phone and data. Use the funds saved on the MuniComplex to do that! BTW, my personal experience is that it is efficient and cost-effective to hire an outside company to do this kind of work – no arguments with the unions, no long term benefits costs, if person is not performing satisfactorily, they can easily be replaced and the Twp person in charge of him/her does not have to be an expert in the field to evaluate his/her performance. With a municipal employee, you have all the proceeding pros turn into cons. Let’s get real folks, you have to define a problem before you can develop a plan to solve it………….
Tom January 19, 2013 at 04:53 PM
Pete, do you really believe that those making these decisions have the public's best interests in mind or their own best interests? What you just informed us of is sickening!
Rob Scott (Editor) January 19, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Serious, The township did look into shared services with the BOE, but the town manager came to the conclusion that—given the needs of both the township and the school district—it wouldn't be in the township's best interest to share the position.
Accountability January 19, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Sounds to me that a council member with experience in this tech field should step up. Someone above commended them on fulfilled campaign promises so let's see it. It would help a great deal
Pete January 19, 2013 at 07:09 PM
I won't say that they had ulterior motives, but think the person making that decision just didn't know what he was doing - probably got sold a bill of goods from some sharp sales person........... Even with paid consultants, I've seen bad advice over the past year.
Tax Playa January 20, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Council should really reconsider this for multiple reasons: 1. What is overhead on a full time employee? 50%? That is a additional 40k/year. 2. One person probably doesn't have the experience we need to solve the above problem (network engineer) and run day to day operations ( application support). Usually people are either network-centric or application centric and not both. We will need to invest in a person and constantly train them. 3. What exactly is the problem? Is it network reliability or help desk response? Or plain architecture? I fear that we really do not have a person who can ask the right questions on council,etc. What is the reccomendation of the tech committee ?Why not bring a firm in to scope the problems first and see if they can solve them? 4. If we hire a full time person we own them! if we hire a firm, we can set up SLA's for uptime, response, etc and hold them accountable. If it doesnt work out, replace them with a new firm. 5. Why not outsource all IT? What business are we in? Running the local township or running IT? Why would Carew want the headache of running IT when he can call up some company and say "fix it"?
Pete January 20, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Hey Tax… Well said, but I would not say “reconsider” but rather change the action to hire an external contractor! A contract firm has the resources to handle any issue with our IT systems, and has knowledge to make recommendations or suggestions for improvement if necessary. Neither Township Council nor Township Manager has the ability to run an IT program, or manage such an employee. A Twp employee that doesn’t work out will be impossible to eliminate (fire, lay off etc). Council: PLEASE CHANGE YOUR APPROACH TO THIS PROBLEM.
Accountability January 20, 2013 at 06:18 PM
This sounds like an issue for council to exert its leadership and resolve. We have an technology expert in council and an Technology committe. Come on folks do your job
Pat January 20, 2013 at 08:58 PM
it was only a year ago that Mayor Jordan helped launch the new website with the IT pro that left. If he was so great, why does the website stink? http://moorestown.patch.com/articles/township-overhauls-12-year-old-website
Gluten free cookies January 20, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Hey Pete, the man with all the inquiries,...the outside contractor was my idea. I'm sure that'll be up for discussion somewhere, right? Appreciate you're logical desires to "fix it".
Pete January 21, 2013 at 01:27 AM
Hey Gluten, you had a great idea. How do we make it happen?

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