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Council OKs $48,184 email upgrade

Vote comes after policy change
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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A $48,184 upgrade to the city's email and archiving system was passed by the City Council Monday night.

The City Council unanimously passed upgrading the email and archiving system, along with renewals to the city's Microsoft Office licenses and improvements to the city's telephone and voicemail systems.

J-4 Systems, of Rocklin, will be charged with taking care of the city's email and archiving upgrade, as well as the Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 licenses, which will cost another $34,318.

In total, the council approved $82,502 in upgrades to the city's email and archiving systems and the Microsoft Office licenses.

The upgrade to the email and archiving systems comes a month after the City Council approved a policy change requiring all correspondence via email between elected city officials and staff to be sent through an address on the city server. The policy also requires emails sent to a majority of council members regarding city business to be copied to the city server so they can be made available as public record.

The policy does not require emails between council members and residents or business and property owners to be saved to the city server, nor does it require emails sent via council members' private email addresses to be copied to the city server.

The new upgrade to Microsoft Exchange, the technology platform the city uses, will make archiving emails for up to two years easier, according to Andy Heath, administrative services director for the city. The version the city uses will be updated to the 2010 version, which is the most recent available.

"It includes increased functionality over the current version, which is the 2003 version, decreases inbox overload, which we have a lot of right now...and archiving functionality is greatly enhanced," Heath said. "We have basically an expanded...message archiving system that's being proposed with this and it will be able to save emails for up to two years, consistent with the city's new policy."

The new email policy comes after a lawsuit filed by Victoria Connolly, an Auburn resident, and the First Amendment Coalition. They filed the lawsuit after Connolly attempted and failed to access emails regarding an initiative for Auburn to become a charter city sent from council members personal email accounts.

Heath said that there would be some savings by using J-4 Systems for both the email and archiving upgrade and the improvements regarding the city's Microsoft Office Professional Plus licenses.

On Monday the City Council also approved a three-year network service and lease agreement with Mahogany Communications for the installation of a hosted Voice Over Internet Protocol telephone and voicemail system, otherwise known as VOIP.

Richard Owens, chair of the city's technology commission, explained to the council that the hosted VOIP reduces equipment and maintenance costs and has increased reliability due to the redundancy of the phone system, which is maintained in a remote location.

He also said it can result in $1,300 savings per month for the city because it would eliminate the use of some phone lines. With that reduction the cost for the first year of using the system would be $34,421.

Councilman Mike Holmes and other council members voiced concern over the remoteness of the actual system and what kind of security issues that might bring up, but Owens said the city's current firewall protection should be adequate.

"I believe there are more things you can do, but do I think they're worth it when it comes to our security risks? No," Owens said.

Contact Amber Marra at amberm@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.