Geauga County commissioners last week approved a motion to return $242,104 to the 2023 budget for the Geauga County Automatic Data Processing Board, which provides IT support and oversight to county offices. The amount will fund the salaries of three employees, including payroll, health insurance and Ohio’s public employee retirement system, Clerk Christine Blair said.
Another claim for $920,000 from ADP for equipment and contracted services was also at issue.
The total $1.3 million requested by ADP is for its ongoing project to strengthen the county’s cybersecurity, which involves infrastructure upgrades. Commissioner Tim Lennon said the two bodies now agree on what the ADP is trying to achieve.
In its 2023 budget proposal, ADP requested $240,000 for the salaries of three additional employees, said County Auditor Chuck Walder, who is ADP’s chief administrator.
The requests are the recommendations from two separate presentations from the US Department of Homeland Security and Black Box, an outsourced IT company that advises companies on cyber risks, over the past 18 months to advise them on cybersecurity risks. of the county, Mr. Walder told me. They recommended staffing certain disciplines, including cybersecurity and networking specialists, he said. “Both came to us with recommendations for infrastructure changes to strengthen our cybersecurity.”
According to the recommendations, ADP planned to hire three people for $242,000. This request was initially approved by the commissioners and was included in the county’s 2023 budget. But ADP board members said the accounting system showed the commissioners’ office removed it from the budget in November.
When the removal of the $242,000 was brought up by ADP board members at their Jan. 9 meeting, Mr. Lennon expressed concern that ADP’s budget had increased by $240. $000 over the previous year. He said he was unsure whether the two requests would be one-time infrastructure purchases or ongoing expenditures.
At the January 19 meeting of commissioners, Mr Lennon said he now agreed with Mr Walder on the need to fund the $242,000 request “after discussing it several times privately”.
Mr. Lennon then discussed another element of ADP’s request, the request for $920,000 for equipment and contracted services.
The commissioners had taken about $400,000 in contractual services and $520,000 in capital expenditures from ADP’s budget.
Costs for contractual services are expected to be 100% recurring “with some typical annual inflationary increases from vendors,” Mr. Walder wrote in an email to Mr. Lennon.
“We are doing our best to optimize our contracts to limit increases,” he said. “Capital expenditures, however, change from year to year. In 2024-2025, it will probably be reduced by 40% compared to non-recurring expenses.
Most requests taken out of the budget can be returned as supplements to the budget. Mr. Lennon said that he and Mr. Walder had agreed that in the future the $920,000 would be added to the budget as a supplementary budget and that Mr. Walder “has agreed to work with us to keep us informed. of the evolution of these initiatives”. be, every step of the way.
Mr. Lennon said the money will be used for “capital improvement” type purchases to update the county’s infrastructure, which will not continue in the next few years of ADP’s budget.
He added that ADP’s request to the commissioners for a total of $1.3 million is “not a normal request”. It will probably amount to one-third of the sheriff’s office budget.
“Obviously salaries and such will be ‘continuing expenses,’ Mr Lennon said. He doesn’t expect the costs of migrating to the cloud and updating servers to continue, but funds and personnel are needed for that transition, he said.
Commissioner Jim Dvorak agreed with restoring funding to ADP’s budget. This will put the county “more up to date” when it comes to cybersecurity, he said. “We haven’t invested a lot in IT over the years. I think this is a step in the right direction.
The commissioners’ director of budget and finance, Adrian Gorton, said Mr Walder told him during a budget hearing that the funding was for the “first stage of a multi-stage process” and that ” the steps will become less and less”.
Mr Lennon said his main conclusion after speaking with Mr Walder was that they had agreed to start trying to “work together and communicate better”. He added: “It may be my fault that we have not communicated in detail what this money will be used for.”
Mr. Lennon said the commissioners have been consistent in granting budget supplements and that the ADP project is “a tree in the forest” when it comes to county departments that receive funding from the commissioners. “We have other projects that we have talked about: the airport, several other things with the exhibition center and other big budget initiatives,” he said.