First published in the June 24 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
Improving the city’s workflow remains a priority as the City Council voted to approve a 2022-23 fiscal year budget that included $100,000 for technology upgrades.
“Regarding our investment in IT… this helps to save future labor costs,” Councilwoman Diana Mahmud said. “As you’re probably aware, labor is the single largest component of our budget. If our employees can do more because of the benefit of having IT, that gives us additional flexibility and savings in future years.”
Mahmud made the motion to pass the budget and was seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Jon Primuth at the council’s June 15 meeting.
The council has been paying attention to staff operations for months now, reducing the number of commissions and holding a special meeting in March to find ways to ease workloads after consultants had told City Manager Arminé Chaparyan that city staff was “constantly on a fire-drill mode.”
The budgeted technology upgrades include personal computer and workstation replacements such as new software licensing and servers.
Some of the associated goals outlined in the budget include creating a “secure and reliable technological infrastructure” and develop a more secure city network through virus protection and network efficiency. The city aims to prevent malware attacks and fraudulent activity and offer training on cybersecurity.
“We’re investing in technology, which will make our staff more efficient, bring them into a higher level of technology and allow for more teamwork and collaboration,” Primuth said. “I think that’s very important.”
Tech upgrades will also be coming to the library, including $12,000 to go to improving staff workstations and $2,000 for tablet devices and mobile scanners to be used at off-site events. An additional $18,400 will install HVAC in the library administration offices.
Several other departments will be seeing hefty upgrades with this budget, including the police department, which will receive a new computer-aided dispatch and records management system through the COPS grant. An additional $200,000 will be an assigned for mental health.
The fire department will receive $150,000 to replace a self-contained breathing apparatus, the packs of compressed air that help firefighters breathe when confronted with smoke and high temperatures. The current packs are 14 years old, just one year away from their maximum life span.
The Public Works Department is slated for multiple new vehicles and accompanying equipment. The largest purchase will be a $260,000 valve truck for preventative maintenance.
It’s important equipment, according to Public Works Director Ted Gerber, who spoke at the June 15 meeting. A new water plan will be adopted soon, and the city will have over $200 million in infrastructure-needs spending in the next 30 years, he said.
On top of the new valve truck, public works will purchase a $65,000 truck for maintenance workers. The vehicle be electric, keeping consistent with South Pasadena’s push to convert to electric equipment as opposed to gas whenever possible.
Another $180,000 will help replace a vehicle and backhoe concrete breaker attachment for the public works department.
With the audit completed and the budget passed, Chaparyan said the city plans to bring a mid-year budget back for council consideration.
“Capital investments versus humanitarian funds, they’re both necessary and we leaned toward the capital funds, the computers,” Councilman Jack Donovan said. “Things that are going to benefit everybody in the future.”