PORT HAWKESBURY: Officials in Port Hawkesbury passed a motion to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for an inter-municipal Information Technology (IT) service, while also approving a $5,000 line item for consultation efforts.

During the town’s regular monthly council meeting on September 10, Erin MacEachen, the town’s finance director, advised council they’ve been having discussions around a shared IT initiative that has stemmed from the shared-service initiative they have with their accounting system.

“We have applied for financing from the Department of Municipal Affairs for this collaboration and received $40,000 to investigate what that would look like moving forward,” she said. “There’s a desire that started amongst the eight municipalities that make up the diamond solution, to expand into a more robust IT service to be provided to the municipalities.”

Partnering municipalities in the MOU are; the Town and County of Antigonish, County of Inverness, Town of Mulgrave, District of St. Mary’s, and the County of Victoria. The County of Richmond originally decided to join but has since withdrawn its name, while the Municipality of the District of Guysborough already has a sufficient IT service of its own.

The intention of the MOU is to look to move forward with a Request For Proposals (RFP) that would identify the inventory of the IT assets within the municipality, some of the risks associated with them, what’s involved, and who’s involved, to determine what some options and cosseted-options for operating structures or operating models would be for a shared IT service.

The initial buy-in for the municipality would be just for Phase 1 and they’re limiting the amount per municipality to $5,000, which they would have in their consulting budget.

“Signing this MOU ties us into a $5,000 commitment maximum, and then having an opportunity to vet the responses and determine whether or not it’s a good model for us to move forward with.”

MacEachen said the goal would be to issue the RFP in early October and have the IT services in place by next fiscal year.