by Carol Thompson
The fate of a recently awarded contract to Info Quick Solutions, Inc. of Liverpool that some legislators claim will cost taxpayers $300,000 more than necessary will be determined by the next county clerk.
Republican candidate Michael C. Backus and Democrat candidate Phillip E. Vasho each have a different approach to the controversial contract.
The contract award to IQS was not unanimous with all Democrat and some Republican legislators voting against it. The contract award was shrouded in controversy and it took legislators more than 18 months to award a proposal.
Backus said he will give the company until next year to determine how to proceed.
“At the end of the year, October of next year, if that contract is not serving in the best interest of the taxpayers and at the end of the day if it’s not working out in the best possible regard for the clerk’s office, we will seek another way to do it,” he said.
Backus did not want to comment on the Essex County Ethics Board investigation that resulted in the County Clerk admitting to allowing company officials to evaluate the other bidders and sharing that information with the Board of Supervisors to sway their decision.
“I have not reviewed that and I would want to review everything that came through that report and I would want to do that both so I am up to speed on what their county did.. just so I understand what they did,” Backus said.
Vasho said if elected, IQS will be gone. “I believe there’s something not quite right (with the contract),” Vasho said.
He added that the indexing must be returned to the clerk’s office and not done by IQS, who charges a fee for each indexing.
“The mapping, the shipping fees are too much,” Vasho said. “We need to be more efficient and give the taxpayers the best bang for the buck.”
As for the added positions in the office, Backus and Vasho had differing opinions.
In the mid-2000s, the deputy clerk was given a large raise and at the time the salary increase was justified by stating that the deputy would do all of the accounting.
Shortly after the raise was approved, the position of senior account clerk was added. A senior index clerk was eliminated and the position of deputy clerk of operations was added. The deputy clerk of operations was said to be a senior index clerk with only the title changed. Shortly after the deputy position was approved, the senior index clerk position was added as of the first of the year.
The senior index clerk position was said to be needed so the indexing could be returned from the office rather than paying IQS employees to do the work.
The indexing has yet to be returned to the county employees.
“That’s what started all the dissension in that office,” Vasho said. “It was the juggling of those positions.”
Vasho said he would streamline the office to make it more efficient and determine what positions are duplicated and not needed.