Server purchase sparks Walla Walla City Council debate

In the end, councilors approved the purchase of a new server for emergency dispatch.

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WALLA WALLA -- Council members debated the proposed purchase of a $45,000 computer server for emergency dispatch, questioning who will own the valuable equipment after the dispatch center moves from Walla Walla to College Place.

In the end, Council voted 6-1 to approve the purchase of the new AS400 Power7 server, capable of supporting computer aided dispatch calls for the entire county, as well as storing vast amounts of police records.

Council Member Shane Laib was the one dissenting vote.

The need for the new system was never questioned by Council; the old server was purchased in 2003.

The cost was also negligible, with roughly $36,000 of the funds being provided by state and Homeland Security grants, with the remainder of the funds would come from the city.

Laib questioned if the county would have the right to take the city's new server to College Place later this year.

While the county officially manages the dispatch service known as WESCOM, the city of Walla Walla staffs the facility.

"I guess what I am saying is you are saying the county is putting money up. The county isn't putting anything up. This is all state and city money," Laib said.

Support Services Director Tim McCarty assured Council that the new server would remain as city property because the purchase would be through the city and the server would be set up in City Hall.

Before making a motion to approve the purchase, Council Member Jim Barrow said the relationship between the city and county has been "fragile" at times and that he felt confident in the city's ability to retain ownership of the server in the future.

"We have some fragile relationships; I would hate to seem them damaged unintentionally," Barrow said.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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