County considering ID badges to increase security

ALPENA- For the last year and a half the Alpena County commissioners have considered moving to a timecard/security system that would require employees to clock in and out with an identification badge. During Wednesday’s Alpena County Finance Committee meeting Commissioners Mark Hall and Scot McKenzie presented their findings after the personnel committee researched the viability of the proposed system.

The use of badges would make it simpler to track employees’ hours, especially those who hold more than one position and work in different locations. Hall said it also would improve security in county facilities.

He said implementing a new system has been on the table for too long and if a change is going to be made it needs to be done before the 2014 budget is done. He said it is time for the county to either move forward or scrap the plan.

“We’re at the point that we need to make up our mind on what direction we want to go,” Hall said. “The personnel committee believes this is a viable project that has some benefits, and there may be some negatives we don’t understand yet, but we need to move it forward to the full board and decide one way or another.”

The county already has a machine that is capable of making badges, but card readers would need to be purchased and placed in the county buildings or offices. Hall said it would cost $7,700 to purchase seven of the readers that scan and read the cards and record the data. Hall said one concern that needs to be addressed before any change to the current system is replaced is enforcement. He said there are some people who would rather punch in the same as they do now on a computer terminal.

“We can make the cards. That is not a problem. We can make badges,” Hall said. “The question is how do you mandate people to use them and wear them and are they going to be in place on that day when we need them to be in place for accountability of employees? No matter what we do though we need to make up our mind one way or another on what we want to do.”

The commissioners voted 3-0 to send the matter to the full board for further discussion on how best to move forward on the proposed project.

In other business:

the committee voted to enter into a five-year agreement with Merit for Internet access for county facilities. The cost of the service is $2,760 a year and the expense will be shared with the city who also uses Merit.

the committee voted to recommend purchasing eight replacement batteries for the phone system’s backup power supply at the annex building. The cost of the batteries is $2,010.

the commissioners voted to purchase six antennas for 911 operations. The total cost of the antennas will be $2,700.

the committee approved allowing a $8,000 grant from the Youth and Recreation Committee to the Park Family Foundation for new skates at Northern Lights Arena to be transferred to Northern Lights Arena-Community. The money is earmarked for the purchase of new rental ice skates at the rink.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at