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Kane panel backs hiring team to help with case management system

GENEVA – The heads of the various offices that make up Kane County’s courts and criminal justice system have signed off on a proposal to hire four information technology professionals, including a project manager, to oversee the work to upgrade the county’s courts-related computer systems.

Kane County’s Judicial and Public Safety Technology Task Force on Thursday recommended the Kane County Board approve the creation of four new IT positions to help facilitate the creation of a new electronic case management system, and then to remain on the county’s payroll to help run the system.

The task force panel includes representatives of the county’s judiciary, the County Board, Sheriff Pat Perez, State’s Attorney Joe McMahon, Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell, Public Defender Kelli Childress, lawyers practicing in the county’s courts and appointed members of the public.

The task force’s action Thursday came at the recommendation of the county’s chief information officer, Roger Fahnestock.

He said current county staff cannot handle the project, with their regular duties.

Fahnestock said the four new hires would include a project manager and three new “analysts” who would work within specific courts-related offices, such as the offices of the Circuit Clerk and State’s Attorney.

Fahnestock estimated the new personnel would cost $442,000 annually.

The task force recommended paying that amount using a portion of the sales tax the county already collects for projects related to “public safety.”

The County Board last year agreed to dedicate 6 percent of the county’s public safety sales tax annually to the project.

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen backed Fahnestock’s recommendation, calling the project manager proposal “a good starting point.”

County officials have discussed the project for years.

The heads of the various offices represented on the task force have said their systems are outdated and inefficient, making it difficult to share documents that circulate among the offices.

Several officials argued that the need only has grown more urgent as time has passed, costing their offices state funding and otherwise unnecessary staff time.

A representative of the consulting organization, the National Center for State Courts, told the task force that the county would be submitting bid solicitations to vendors by the end of the month. 

The county could award a contract by the end of the year.

The overall project to develop the case management system had been estimated by a different consultant hired by the county to cost more than $12 million. Lauzen said the task force will work to keep the costs much lower than that.

The proposals will go next to the County Board’s Finance Committee on Wednesday.

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