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Elkins looking at upgrades to council tablets

ELKINS — The Elkins City Council Finance Committee is considering purchasing new technology to upgrade the computer tablets currently used by council members. Recent technical issues with virtual online meetings led the city to seek estimates to upgrade the current technology.

During a Finance Committee meeting this week, Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton shared estimates to purchase new tablets or laptops for council members. She said the city reached out to AT&T and to Business First IT, operated by Craig Ray.

According to information provided during the meeting, the city through AT&T received quotes for new tablets and laptops. The tablets would have no upfront costs, but would cost the city $496 a month and $7,936 over the course of 16 months. The laptops would cost $1,529 up front per unit for a total of $24,464. The monthly cost of the laptops would be $320 and a total of $29,584 over 16 months. Both the tablets and laptops would include data plans.

The city also received an estimate from Business First IT for traditional laptops. The laptops would cost $675 per unit for a total of $10,800. The laptops would technical support.

Sutton recommended the committee consider purchasing the laptops from Business First IT. Councilman and Committee Member Carman Metheny, Third Ward, said he wanted to be sure any new purchase would use Windows as the operating system and asked if one of the laptops could be brought to council for members to examine.

Councilman Mike Hinchman, Second Ward, was on hand during the meeting and said he would like to see the specifications for the laptop.

“I want the specs checked, too,” Metheny said. “I want to make sure it has everything needed.”

Fourth Ward Council and Committee Member Marilynn Counzo said, “This is something we need to move forward with.”

Councilman and Committee Chair Charlie Friddle, Second Ward, said, “We are looking for something that meets the needs for communication.”

Sutton said she uses a laptop purchased from Business First IT and noted the Elkins Police Department purchased several laptops from the company.

Metheny suggested having a representative from the company bring one of the laptops to a meeting for a demonstration. Counzo made a motion to proceed with the purchase, but the decision was tabled.

“I would like to see it in operation before we purchase it,” Metheny said. Friddle agreed and tabled the matter until the specifications can be shared with council and a demonstration can be conducted.

The current Samsung tablets used by council members were purchased in August of 2017 from AT&T. The business rate plan was to cost $243.60 per month total.

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