Debate over centralized computer system turns ugly - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Debate over centralized computer system turns ugly

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Shelby County Commissioners ended 2010 with an ugly exchange Friday.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell hoped to force all elected officials to use a new centralized computer system.  Friday, the majority of county commissioners squashed his plan.

Along with Luttrell, Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter is passionate about putting every county department on the same computer system.

"What we know from our consultants is that we spend almost 30 percent more than comparable cities because we're fragmented because we're not centralized," said Carpenter.

Earlier this month, Luttrell vetoed a resolution that would have given county clerks and elected officials the ability to opt out of a new centralized computer system.  In an emergency meeting called Friday, the majority of commissioners voted to override the mayor's veto.

"They're all elected county wide, just like the mayor," said Shelby County Commissioner Wyatt Bunker.  "If they don't get the customer service level they need from IT, then they have an option to opt out."

Carpenter said his colleagues passed up a chance to save taxpayer dollars.

"To override the mayor's veto says we are against saving $4 million annually," said Carpenter.

Opponents said Carpenter's projection is inflated because the majority of elected officials will opt in to the centralized system.

The majority of commissioners also voted Friday to hire a new manager to run the centralized system.  They approved a $125,000 annual salary for the position.

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