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Council temporarily holds off on computer lease
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The Ceres City Council held up a lease agreement for desktop computers from Hewlett Packard during last week's meeting.

The city has allowed its computer technology to slide in recent years due to budget shortcomings but officials are making efforts to get updated equipment. The city recently spent $23,520 for DataPath Technology Services to assess the city's IT equipment and make recommendations for newer systems.

City staff had recommended the council approve a 48-month lease agreement for 56 desktop computers for use in planning, engineering, public works, recreation and public safety departments. Deputy City Manager Sheila Cumberland said that with the exception of computers in City Hall and a few in the police department, the city's aging desktop PCs are five to seven years old and beginning to fail and are in need of replacement. She also noted that the city is in a "position where we are experiencing equipment failure and may soon experience data loss." In addition, the city's computers run the Windows XP as their operating system and Microsoft has announced that it will not provide security updates for Windows XP beyond April 8.

The proposed four-year lease will cost $78,233.

Councilman Ken Lane said that he could support the agreement but had questions that stalled its approval. He noted that HP stands behind the computers for three years but the final year the city is responsible for issues. Farren Williams, the city's IT technician, said typically HP computers don't have issues after three years.

Lane, however, said while the city needs new computers, he doesn't want the city stuck with four-year-old computers that need to be replaced at the end of the lease agreement. He said he preferred to see the city enter a three-year lease and have the computers updated and possibly buy the computers rather than enter another lease. He wanted staff to look into a three-year lease and clarify if the proposed four-year lease was based a fair market value rate.

"I just think that if you're looking at a four-year FMV, you're going to return those ... and that's great but it doesn't say that in your lease document," said Lane.

The matter will come back on April 14.