Germantown searches for Fire Department funds

Village Board debates feasibility of new Fire Department software

June 18, 2013

Germantown — Though the majority of the Village Board was in favor of purchasing new record management software for the Fire Department, they were concerned about financial restrictions.

In the 2013 budget, $31,000 was set aside for an upgrade to the current Fire Department software. After the budget was set, a different software company called ProPhoenix — the system used by the Germantown Police Department — upgraded their software to be conducive to fire department functions.

By using ProPhoenix, for the first time the Fire Department and Police Department would have integrated systems that provide the ability to communicate and share data, Fire Department Captain Matt Karpinski said.

The cost for a completely new system is $71,000.

"We have pulled back the reigns on what we had originally budgeted and are looking to go forward with this because of the overwhelming benefits we saw with streamlining and going with one software between us," Karpinski said.

The Village Board was skeptical about approving the proposal before first seeing if there is enough money in the current budget to pay for the new system. The board directed administration to come back to the next board meeting with a funding plan. They also asked that the police chief be available to answer questions as well. Then, the board can decide whether or not to approve the system.

Ideas to find funds

Trustee Art Zabel originally moved to approve the software and then find the funds in the budget, saying he believes the money is available — it's just a matter of reworking the budget.

The Fire Department suggested using funds budgeted in 2013 to purchase new heart monitors for the software and wait until 2014 to purchase them.

There is a timeline tied to approving ProPhoenix software. The company offered a $17,000 discount if the Fire Department assists them in the development of a mobile patient care reporting program.

ProPhoenix is looking to start development in the next 120 days.

With the discount, the total cost is about $59,000, according to village documents. In addition, there is an annual support and maintenance cost totaling roughly $8,000. If they wait to purchase ProPhoenix, they will not be part of the development process and will not get a discount, Karpinski said.

Village Administrator Dave Schornack said it's a benefit to have the fire department and police department on the same system communicating; however, there aren't funds readily available and they would have to search to find the money.

Unanswered questions

Trustee Terri Kaminski, who opposed the motion, said there are too many unanswered questions to move forward with the software. She said they should wait until 2014 and revisit the expenditure as part of next year's capital budget.

"I'd love us to have it if we could afford it today," she said.

If it comes down to purchasing heart monitors or the software, heart monitors should come first, Kaminski said.

Trustee Shane Daniels said "it seems foolish" for the Fire Department to spend $31,000 upgrading their current system if they are going to come back and ask for $71,000 to purchase a new system next year.

Trustee Jeff Werderman agreed, but wanted to hear from both the Fire Department and the Police Department before voting on the software.

The Village Board will revisit the issue at its meeting at 7 p.m. July 1 at Village Hall, W17001 Mequon Road.

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