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Council nearly skips buying 13 computers for Community Center
Hesitation comes from not knowing fate of computer lab
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The city of Ceres will be replacing 13 old computers in use at Ceres Community Center's public computer lab. At a cost of $46,500 over a five-year period of financing, the purchase almost didn't happen.

At the Monday, Sept. 28 council meeting, some members felt like waiting to see what the council plans to do about operations at the Ceres Community Center. In June, City Manager Toby Wells said the council needs to develop a five-year plan to deal with the red ink which the Community Center is awash in. He wants to have that plan in place by March 2016. The center has drained the city by $845,000 since it was opened in 2009. One idea on the table is to dismantle the public computer lab, which doubles as a place for city workers to receive computer training.

The city's Information Technology manager, Farren Williams, said the computers have been in service for six years and are beginning to fail with two "on the brink of total failure." The server has surpassed its life of five years and is in need of replacement, too.

"I'm wondering - before we spend the money to replace the server and 13 computers - should we wait until we actually have a discussion on the Community Center to see what direction we're going to go?" asked Councilwoman Linda Ryno.

City Manager Toby Wells said the council determined in 2012 that it would keep the lab open. The replacement costs were budgeted in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

"If the council would like to hold off on that decision, we can but those computers are getting, shall we say, fragile," Wells told the council.

With many having issues with video cards and hard drives, Williams said he didn't know if the computers would last another six months.

Councilman Mike Kline wanted to put off the purchase, noting that the Ceres Library has public computers for internet use and that the cities of Turlock and Riverbank do not offer computers for their residents.

After Mayor Chris Vierra said he could hold off six months, Wells reminded the council that the computers could be repurposed for failing computers in City Hall should the council ultimately dismantle the lab. But Vierra said if viable city services were using the computers "that's a different story" on waiting. Wells said the city is going to use the computers to train employees on the new RIMS Computer Aided Dispatch system for Public Safety. He said if they fail, the training can't take place on them.

Williams noted, however, that the old computers won't run RIMS. He said if the city drops the lab, the new computers can be used to replace 15 that are scheduled to be retired from the Finance Department next fiscal year.

"I can't see purchasing these computers just because we want to use them for training and we don't know if we're going to continue having that facility available at the Community Center," said Ryno.

The council voted 3-2 in support of the fair market lease agreement with the Hewlitt-Packard Public Sector Sales. Ryno and Kline were outvoted by Mayor Vierra and councilmembers Bret Durossette and Ken Lane.

The lease agreement will cost the city $9,230 per year for five years.