Madison Heights City Council approves ITAC

New committee will address city’s technological needs

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published February 19, 2014

MADISON HEIGHTS — A new committee has formed in Madison Heights, dedicated to improving the “City of Progress” through the use of technology.

The Information Technology Advisory Committee, or ITAC, was unanimously approved by City Council at their meeting Feb. 10. It had been previously brought up for vote at the Jan. 27 meeting but was tabled at the time due to the mayor’s absence.

Spearheaded by City Councilmember Mark Bliss, ITAC will review the city’s overall strategic IT plan. The committee will have nine members — five residents nominated and approved by council, a council representative, and three staff (City Manager Ben Myers, Deputy City Manager Melissa Marsh and MIS Administrator Gary Fiscus). There is no overtime pay for staff, but Marsh and Fiscus will receive compensatory hours.

As for the resident members, they can apply for the position at the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 300 W. 13 Mile. The application involves a background check including criminal history. No special skill set or knowledge is required.

Bliss was inspired by Foster City, Calif., which has had an ITAC since the late ’90s. With about 30,000 residents, Foster City is similar in size to Madison Heights. The Foster City ITAC has helped shape their web presence, advise them on fiber-optic networks, encourage competitive bids among telephone and cable TV providers, and more.

As Bliss noted at the Feb. 10 meeting, ITAC promises to enhance the lives of all — even those who stay off the Internet and don’t have smartphones. For example, better technology at City Hall can increase efficiency and reduce wait times for residents.

And for those who are plugged in, ITAC can pave the way for a stronger sense of connectedness in the city, whether that’s a vibrant social media presence or links to video of individual policy votes, available at the click of a button.

All sorts of issues will come before ITAC, from networking and Internet security to upgrading the city’s telecommunications and computer hardware. The members of ITAC will be an extra set of eyes to explore all of the technological options available to the city, freeing up staff to pursue other objectives.

And the suggestions of ITAC ultimately come back to City Council, who will then decide whether the suggestions make financial sense, given the constraints of the budget.

City Councilmember Richard Clark expressed concern about having only three staff members on the committee, saying he’d prefer to spread the workload more evenly across more staff members. But ultimately, he voted in favor of Bliss’ original proposal.  

Bliss said it was important that they don’t reduce the number of resident members.

“Part of the reason to have an ITAC is to gain knowledge and expertise from the community, and this is an area where having that extra citizen makes a difference,” Bliss said. “I want the majority to be citizens because, ultimately, we are here to serve them and to hear what their needs are.”

City Councilmember David Soltis agreed they should stay at five resident members.

“I think we need more citizens aboard the committee,” Soltis said.  

At the Jan. 27 meeting, several residents came before City Council and expressed their interest in ITAC.

“I just wanted to say, as a resident with 14 years of IT experience … I’m in favor of the IT Advisory Committee, and I would also like to be considered to be on that board,” said Lucas Acha, of Madison Heights.

“It’s important to have more citizen input,” said Alyssa Bottrell, of Madison Heights, at the same meeting. “I think you have a lot of very talented citizens … who have expertise in information technology and other areas.”

City Councilmember Robert Corbett noted the public’s interest in ITAC Feb. 10.

“It touched a nerve in the community,” Corbett said. “The interest is out there.”

Those interested in applying for the Madison Heights Information Technology Advisory Committee can call the City Clerk’s Office at (248) 583-0826. The City Clerk’s Office is located at Madison Heights City Hall, 300 W. 13 Mile near John R.