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Morrison County Auditor/Treasurer Chelsey Robinson made a request to the County Board, Tuesday, to purchase a software license to go with the speaker system installed in the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

When the speakers were purchased, neither Robinson nor anyone in the Information Technology (IT) Department was aware the software license was needed to make all parts of the system work together. The speakers are used to call people forward and relay information to customers at the DMV.

The cost to purchase the AXIS Audio Manager Pro license from Shi International Corp. is $2,557. As an unexpected cost, it was not included in this year’s budget. The money would therefore come out of the capital equipment fund.

“Those funds are there for spur of the moment things that come up like this,” Robinson said. “If you recall, about a year ago, in December (2020), I came before you and asked you for approval to use capital equipment funds to purchase five credit card (machines) — roughly $3,600. I will not be utilizing that, as we won’t be going through that same vendor. We’re switching.”

She confirmed the $2,557 purchase would be a one-time cost.

When the department initially learned of the issue, Robinson said she spoke with IT about whether or not there were other options available. At the time, she was told they could purchase a piece of equipment called a “bridge” for about $200 that would help all of the equipment integrate.

However, that option wasn’t feasible.

“With the economic supply and demand chain problem that we’re having right now, they’ve notified us that it would be about 5 1/2 - 6 months out before we get that piece of equipment,” Robinson said. “Right now we’re running on a 30-day temporary free trial. That runs out in about 12 days.”

“When we bought the equipment, did they say there was this thing coming up?” asked Board Chair Mike Wilson. “They don’t tell you that stuff?”

Robinson said both she and staff members at IT were “caught off guard” when they learned they needed to purchase the software licensing. She said the system used at the DMV has always had speaker capability, but it has not been used until recently.

They tested the system with computer speakers to ensure it would work before spending any money.

“Now we’ve purchased speakers that are up in the ceiling, but we can’t connect the computer and the kiosk to the speakers in the ceiling unless we have the software to do so,” Robinson said.

“It’s kind of crazy that the vendor didn’t say, in order to make it all work, this is what you’re going to need,” said Commissioner Jeffrey Jelinski. “But, it doesn’t matter, because it’s done.”

IT Director Amy Middendorf clarified that the county had purchased the basic license with the vendor, but an advanced license was needed to connect the speaker system to the kiosks.

“The vendor isn’t super familiar with it,” Middendorf said. “We got it in here, tried to make it work, he got it to work and then realized it was only a 30-day trial.”

Wilson advised Robinson to bring the purchase forward for approval at the Board’s regular meeting Tuesday, Nov. 23.

“I don’t think we have much choice,” he said.

Board of Commissioners Briefs:

In other business Tuesday, the Morrison County Board of Commissioners:

• Discussed proposed changes to the personnel policy in the Information Technology (IT) Department. Director Amy Middendorf said most of the changes are to make policy current with verbiage and use of technology;

• Gave County Engineer Steve Backowski the go-ahead to move forward on filling an administrative specialist position in the Public Works Department;

• Discussed a right of way revocation on County State Aid Highway 4 near Swanville to create extra grazing land;

• Went over a draft of the employment agreement which will be presented to the candidate selected as the next county administrator. The Board had an opportunity to give input before it goes to the county’s human resources attorneys for approval; and

• Board Chair Mike Wilson said he had been contacted by residents of cities in the county regarding the proposed body worn camera system, which will be utilized by the county with smaller city police departments possibly joining. They discussed if American Rescue Plan funding could be used for the system, and talked about various other payment methods.

Nothing was finalized.

The next meeting of the Board of Commissioners is 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23, in the Board Room at the Morrison County Government Center.

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