Cost will be in the neighborhood of $220,000
By Randy Parks
Saying, “The time is here,” County Assessor Ted Tiller presented the county court with two proposals for updating the software at the courthouse.
Tiller said they have known for more than five years that they would need the update, but they have held off, hoping that the costs would decrease and any “bugs” in the system would be worked out.
“We’re not unhappy with the current system, but the company meeting our needs said it’s time for a change,” Tiller said. He explained that most other counties in the state have gone away from using the AS400 system, which is the one Harney County is currently using, and the support company, ASI, wouldn’t support just one county.
Tiller said he had researched other systems available, and presented two options to the court for discussion.
When asked what the expense of the update would be, Tiller said both options would cost a little over $220,000.
“Just let me say this is not catching us off guard,” Judge Steve Grasty said. “We knew this day was coming and we’ve been putting money aside every year.” He added that they have almost the entire amount of the update set aside because of the foresight.
Tiller stated that his preference between the two options was the Helion system because after talking with other counties, they seemed to offer better support after the conversion was completed.
Because there was a question of compatibility with the Helion program and the AS400 used in other departments of the courthouse, it was suggested that Tiller explore the possibility of upgrading the clerk’s office and the general ledger to Helion as well. “Maybe we could end up with one provider across the board, and it could be a money-saver,” Grasty said.
Tiller agreed to look into the costs involved and report back to the court.
Planning Director Brandon McMullen was in attendance for a public hearing to discuss proposed changes and updates to the Harney County Comprehensive Plan.
There was a lengthy discussion regarding section 4.130, dealing with “public need.” McMullen explained that the planning commission felt the language should remain in the comp plan, while the court was leaning toward omitting the section.
The court decided to have a continuation of the hearing and have a member of the planning commission address the court as to why they felt 4.130 should remain in the plan.
Judge Grasty stated that Shane Otley of the Oregon Farm Bureau had approached him about a federal grant available for improving band width in rural areas.
The grant is part of a reported $4 billion available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Grasty said the grant application was lengthy, about 155 pages, has a $15,000 application fee and a March 15 deadline.
The court discussed partnering with Harney Education Service District (ESD), who would provide the broadband technology and service, as well as the local farm bureau to cover the application fee.
Because the ESD would be in a position to recoup their portion of the cost and the court wouldn’t, the court felt the ESD and the Oregon Farm Bureau should work together on the project.
In other business:
• the court voted to sign a re-application for the Drug Free Communities Grant, now in its third year;
• after opening two bids, the court awarded the fuel bid to Ebar Oil Company. Because the court would be switching from Staub & Sons to Ebar Oil Co., there was some discussion as to how to make that transition as smooth as possible;
• Brandon Baron from Paramore Real Estate approached the court for a review of applications by Roaring Springs Ranch to purchase two parcels, one 20 acres, the other 40 acres, of county-owned property on Steens Mountain.
The parcels didn’t sell at public auction, and there was some question as to the Real Market Value (RMV) of the 40-acre parcel.
The minimum bid was set at $40,000, and Baron said the adjacent parcels of land weren’t close to $1,000 per acre. He explained that there was some land worth that amount on the Steens because of their trade value, but these two particular parcels weren’t in that area.
Baron said Roaring Springs Ranch was offering $15,000 for the larger parcel and $2,000 for the smaller one, and felt that was closer to the RMV.
The court reviewed their policies the state statute for selling county-owned land, and decided to seek legal counsel before making a decision;
• the court reviewed the updated Harney County Community Wildfire Protection Plan and voted to accept it.
The next county court meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 2.