During their first July meeting, the Fort Scott City Commission approved a series of recommendations from financial director Jon Garrison and director of informational technology Dustin McClure to improve the efficiency of the technology among the public buildings.
The three requests the commission unanimously approved included changes to the city website, economic development website, fiber systems and phone system. While some of the items require the city to commit sums of money to the improvements, others will save the city even larger amounts in upcoming years.
The planning process to update the current phone system to a digital program began a couple years ago and, although it will cost $20,000 initially, the city would then save about $46,000 each year. The phone lines will move away from the current 62 lines used between the city buildings.
“We are able to improve our technology but also save quite a bit of money,” Garrison said of the change.
In recent years, the city also got a high-speed fiber network through Suddenlink, but now needs to expand that reach. By working with the county and United School District 234, the city will be able to connect their own fiber system with the other taxing entities’ to connect city hall to other places such as the police station and public works facility.
“It just opens up a wide variety of benefits, not only for us, but for the school and the county,” Garrison said, while McClure emphasized the shared lines will not compromise security from the other entities and will be redundant enough that, if a line went down, the entities would not each lose their systems.
This project will cost about $60,000 and is available in the city budget.
City Manager Dave Martin said having the high-speed fiber network is key to the city moving forward, especially by connecting them to the police department.
The final project approved by the commission included hiring Civic Plus to make updates to the city website for a total of $46,014 stretched over three years. The changes would allow visitors to the website to accomplish more such as receiving or giving information. Martin said a city’s website is often crucial for businesses or potential visitors considering coming to Fort Scott.
“We feel very strongly that it’s something we need to do to continue moving the city forward,” Garrison said.
The city also heard a report from Director of Economic Development Heather Smith concerning her plan to separate the economic development website from the city’s, apart from sharing a link, so that economic information can be found readily without being lost in other city details. Smith said she plans to work with the area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism on the site.