County supervisors learned Tuesday that a virus that infected the local government’s information technology infrastructure cost taxpayers more than $200,000, and a majority of board members agreed to pay a consultant nearly $200,000 more in expenses to fund an outside consultant helping on the matter.
Supervisors OK’d a $400,000 allocation Tuesday to pay a company called Keep It Simple. The firm handled the county’s response to the computer virus that affected systems for more than three weeks in August and September.
County Administrative Officer Ray Espinosa had already OK’d more than $200,000 in spending to Keep It Simple during the ordeal, and at least one supervisor questioned why the CAO didn’t consult with the board on the spending details before Tuesday. Espinosa’s response was that the CAO had the authority to make the decision, and supervisors ultimately approved the full $400,000 allocation.
Two supervisors, Jaime De La Cruz and Mark Medina, opposed it.
Medina during the discussion previously motioned to allocate just the amount of funds to cover services rendered, while the majority of the board sided with the consent-agenda request for $400,000 that is expected to take the consultant’s contract through December 2019.
“Let’s not just give them a blank check for $400,000,” said Medina.
Medina is the one who asked Espinosa why there had not been an emergency meeting on the funding matter similarly to the impromptu meetings held to discuss the Lover’s Lane flooding and Southside Road landslide in recent times.
“This was kind of not brought to anybody’s attention,” Medina said in the meeting. “That’s the only thing I’m trying to look at here.”
Espinosa touted how Keep It Simple had been familiar with county I.T. infrastructure, and the CAO claimed the county is understaffed compared with other regional counties. Espinosa said Santa Cruz and Monterey counties each employ over 100 people to handle I.T., while San Benito County has just three people working on it.
“Not to say we probably shouldn’t have had a meeting for the seriousness of the computer situation,” he said.
De La Cruz, meanwhile, continually pushed for the county to open up the I.T. consultant contract to other potential bidders.
“We’ve got to start from scratch,” he said.
Supervisor Robert Rivas said he wanted to see updates going forward to help weigh the I.T. contract situation.
“Whether this is the right vendor or not, I have no idea,” he said. “I think it would be helpful to have an update from the I.T. department as far as what our needs are.”