Commissioners discuss how to spend grant money

By Kelsey Kimbler - [email protected]

EATON — The Preble County Sheriff’s Office recently received a grant from the Timken Foundation for $40,000 in computer and technology upgrades.

During a previous Board of Commissioners’ meeting, commissioners discussed Sheriff Mike Simpson’s recommendation for how to spend the $40,000. Deciding they were uncomfortable with waiving quotes for a purchase of $40,000, the commissioners suggested having a conversation with the sheriff and Dayton Technology Group (DTGi).

That conversation was held during the meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

“One of the things that came up in the discussion is that when we upgraded servers we upgraded larger to accommodate some of the Sheriff needs. That is where we need some explanation on how this all plays in and where we are at on that,” Commission President Chris Day said.

“I think some of the upgrades, where they come in, is the email filtering and message archiving is here. That is probably what was updated, because the Sheriff’s Department has an email server, but the emails get filtered through your office and archived here. The Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have those services,” Brock Kiser, with DTGi, said.

“So, it comes here, gets filtered, and then goes to their email server at their location,” Commissioner Denise Robertson clarified. Kiser responded that she was correct. He added that their proposal does not change the archiving and filtering, but it does change what is housed at the Sheriff’s Department.

“What they have now is called an SBS server — an SBS server included exchange licensing and wrapped it all in for a nice price. They don’t do SBS anymore, so the replacement for SBS exchange is to go to Office 365. That is their answer for it. You can get exchange, but the licensing is much more expensive. Basically, it is not at the price point as the small business server. It is a higher cost. Office 365 replaces the exchange server.

“They’re just connecting to a different spot. That is all they are doing. Their Outlook connects to their exchange server now, so it is just going to be minor image with Office 365 and it will connect there. It is taking what is now local and putting it in Microsoft.”

“The concern that I have is that we have done our due diligence that the servers are secure and that we are protected,” Day said. “I just know from the County’s perspective and our insurance that is the question now. We have to make sure if there is a breech we are complying with our insurance.”

Kiser assured Day they are doing their due diligence and that protection is in place.

“We reached out to [Kiser] to see what we need and how we could do it cost effectively over the long term,” Sheriff Simpson said. “We want to make sure we are using our grant dollars effectively.”

Day replied, “I understand that, I just want to make sure we understand your proposal so if someone asks why we spent that much money we can at least have an educated answer.”

According to Kiser, they are proposing to bring two new servers in and to creating new servers to migrant from the old versions to the new. The number of servers will stay the same, but they are simply creating a new system. They will take what is on the server now and put it onto Office 365.

Administrative Assistant Kim Keller asked, “Do we have the capability of just hosting the Sheriff’s Department on our exchange server?”

“The capability, yes, but there would be additional licensing and probably extra resources, like memory and storage,” Kiser responded. “I don’t know if that would be more cost effective, I would have to look.”

Simpson added, since the original proposal they have been able to scale back the estimate for Office 365 to save money. Yet, Keller pointed out that they can purchase Office 365 licenses through the County’s agreement for even cheaper, which the Sheriff and Kiser did not know.

According to Keller, this could save the department anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000. Simpson asked Keller to give him pricing so they could plan accordingly.

Using the $40,000 from the Timken Foundation Grant the Department will be getting the hardware and Phase I underway, however, the Microsoft 365 will not be covered by the grant. The funds for that will come out of the Sheriff Department’s budget.

“You had asked me to get quotes on equipment,” Keller told the commissioners. “The quotes that I got show that you can get the same equipment and software, with Brock [Kiser] doing the installation, it is just under $34,000. We could go that route and if you are interested in using Microsoft 365 the rest would probably cover the first year’s subscription.”

Commissioner Rodney Creech expressed he was uneasy having Kiser do the work, but using a different company’s equipment instead of his own. However, Keller assured him that Kiser had agreed to that before the county contracted with DTGi for IT work. According to policy, the commissioners must always have multiple quotes and go with the most cost effective option.

“We get the information for the sheriff, if we can save money on the licensing or whatever, obviously we have to look into that,” Day said. “I don’t know the pros and cons on this, guys, you have to help me out on this. Kim, give the sheriff the information you have and Simpson and Kiser will work on this and come back to us with a plan.

“I don’t think anybody is questioning where we go with this, we just want to understand it all.”

By Kelsey Kimbler

[email protected]

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH