Steve Bukovac has been hired as Amherst’s first information technology director, earning praise last week as he stepped into the job.
He’s taken up an office on the bottom floor of the city’s San Springs building on Park Avenue. The space had been the computer-aided drafting office until four years ago, when then-mayor David Taylor eliminated the position.
Bukovac appeared in high spirits Thursday, three days into the new job, after meeting with industry reps to review how they might help meet Amherst’s growing technology needs.
“Steve’s going to be this middle person that we’ve needed to analyze all this different equipment and solutions,” said mayor Mark Costilow. “As well as he knows the city, he’s going to be able to pick out the best path for us.”
A former city councilman, Bukovac resigned earlier this year from his elected post to gun for the newly-created position.
He was offered the top IT job — the department’s only position for now — after officials interviewed two applicants. Safety-service director John Jeffreys, mayoral assistant Jami Anderson, and police chief Joseph Kucirek were involved in talking to the candidates and recommending a hire.
Costilow had previously sought the Civil Service commission’s approval to appoint Bukovac outright, but was denied.
The mayor said he views Bukovac’s qualifications as exceptional. But lacking a depth of technology-related knowledge, he relied on a third party firm that volunteered for free to compare applications.
“Steve was already blessed with management experience, has handled big projects, and had a vast knowledge of the city and what our needs are,” Costilow said.”He’s able to talk to me and explain things in my own terms.”
Bukovac’s first week duties involved surveying what services and devices Amherst employees already have, what can be consolidated for cost savings, and where the city is tech-efficient and tech-inefficient.
He started by pointing to where the city can see some significant savings through changes to phone service, said Costilow. Next up was a trip to the police station on North Lake Street, which hosts about half of Amherst’s hi-tech equipment.
From making sure city email addresses are more uniform to running www.amherstohio.org to finding ways to use fewer printers, Bukovac will have plenty to do.
On one side that means updating outdated city computers still running Windows 95. On a much larger scale, Bukovac will be in charge of connecting Amherst offices with a five-mile fiber optic loop.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.