Council weighs merits of creating Amherst IT manager job

By Jason Hawk -

Stepping into the Computer Age, in the city of Amherst’s case, is a big task.

For the past couple of decades, its offices and employees have remained relatively low-tech. But that could soon change with the creation of an information technology department.

Amherst council is poised to hire a “department” of one — a full-time manager to shape the city’s future with regard to how hardware, software, networks, telephones, and websites mesh to serve residents.

Mayor Mark Costilow has proposed a $65,000 starting salary.

The job will be more than sitting at a desk, he said. Whomever is hired will have to develop a sweeping, multi-million-dollar tech infrastructure basically from scratch.

It’s far past time to bring the city’s operations up to date, he said, because there aren’t “many things that we touch anymore that aren’t technology-driven.”

In fact, Costilow said he believes $65,000 is far below the worth of a full-time IT manager.

Councilman David Janik disagreed.

“I’m a little concerned about where we are fiscally, and where we could go fiscally,” he said, adding: “This is going to get costly. This is not a cheap area or cheap business to be in.”

He said he couldn’t support an IT manager job without specific language about what experience and certification candidates must have. Janik provided the lone vote against sending the ordinance along to its next vote Feb. 27.

Other council members — Phil Van Treuren, David Goodell, Chuck Winiarski, and Joe Miller — all voiced support for the IT position.

“We’re not ahead of the times,” argued Miller.

Not among those casting votes was former councilman Steve Bukovac. He resigned from his first ward seat last week, saying he plans to apply for the IT job.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk