Park District of Oak Park Board of Commissioners will outsource its information technology services to Wood Dale-based Noventech.

The park board voted unanimously to change its approach to IT services at their meeting on Feb. 20 after Jan Arnold, the park district’s executive director, argued earlier last month that it would be a better value for their money and make it easier to accommodate the park district’s growing needs. 

While the commissioners had some concerns about Noventech’s responsiveness, they were ultimately persuaded to support the idea.

Arnold explained to commissioners that, in 2019, the park district’s technology manager Michael Elden resigned to relocate out of state. The person originally hired as a replacement “didn’t work out,” so the park district was looking for a more permanent solution.

Even as the staff looked for more permanent replacement, they began discussing the fact that the park district’s technology needs were growing, and they might be better served by a group of professionals with “a wide-range of information technology experience and expertise.” 

Contracting with Noventech would accomplish that, Arnold said. And the park district would benefit from having computer server backup outside Oak Park.

“We do not have that currently. Our backup is at Ridgeland [Common], and we wanted to get it out of Oak Park,” Arnold said.

She noted that, before the staff started considering outsourcing, they considered hiring another staff member. While the contract with Noventech will cost the park district $106,200 — slightly less than approximately $107,000 it would cost to cover the new technology manager’s salary and benefits — the savings become larger when one adds $65,000 in salary and benefits for a second position. 

Arnold said that Noventech has nine employees, and the contract specifies that at least one of them will be onsite at least 16 hours a month. In response to questions from the commissioners, she emphasized that the number is a minimum. If the situation warrants it, they will be there more often.

Commissioner Chris Wollmuth wondered about the response time, but he was assured that the contract specifies that response must come within no more than hour. 

Arnold also mentioned that, while the contract is good for a year, it can be dissolved within six months if the park district isn’t happy with the company’s performance. 

Overall, she believed the contract would help the park district.

“Staying on the cutting edge what’s going on, having nine people with different backgrounds, I think it will help us run smoother operations,” Arnold said. “I feel, based on the discussions we had and the conversations we had, that this is the right [move].”

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Igor Studenkov

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Growing Community Media newspapers in 2012, then from 2015...

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