Shopping around for a good deal on hydraulic car lifts isn’t in the job description for most data processing professionals.
“We got a better deal than we first thought,” said Daniel Colon. “I just faxed in an order [Monday] morning.”
Colon runs Montgomery County’s data processing department, keeping the computer network for a few hundred county employees free of viruses. He’s also in charge of two tons of printing equipment on the county annex building’s main floor, which is where the car lifts come in.
The annex building is sandwiched between Route 5 and the Mohawk River on the flood-prone southern edge of Fonda. It was inundated in 2006 and again in 2011. The flood waters caused a total of roughly $80,000 in damage to the printers alone.
At a meeting last week, the county Board of Supervisors approved $12,500 for two hydraulic car lifts. It’s an odd expense for the data department, but Colon said the pre-emptive purchase will stop any further repair costs.
“We’re going to mount the machines on the lifts,” he said. “When there’s a flood coming, we’ll just raise them up a few feet and hope for the best.”
The county operates a large printer and another large paper-cutting machine. Each one, Colon said, weighs about a ton. Aside from printing official documents and such, the county uses the machines to take on outside printing contracts.
In the aftermath of each flood, Colon said the machines were down for months. During that time, the county not only lost outside revenue, but it had to farm out internal printing jobs at a premium.
“It cost us a lot for repairs,” he said, “but we lost a whole lot more than that.”
At no point has the water risen much more than a foot, so he said three-foot locking hydraulic lifts should keep them out of harm’s way.
The lifts should be installed in the coming weeks. It’s a load off his mind, but Colon said the equipment is just a Band-Aid for a much larger problem. When the annex building floods, printers aren’t the only things in danger. There are also many thousands of dollars’ worth of computer mainframes responsible for running almost every aspect of county business.
“This has been on our minds for years,” said Root Town Supervisor and Board Chairman John Thayer. “It’s not a good situation.”
Colon said the county should really just shell out for a new, more efficient facility that’s not on the floodplain. According to Thayer, such an option was considered by the board shortly after the 2006 flooding.
There was talk of constructing a new building near the Fonda-Fultonville school or in the town of Glen industrial park.
“Bids came back in excess of $30 million,” he said. “We’re not a rich county. We figured the taxpayers wouldn’t appreciate us spending that kind of money.”
In the end, nothing came of the idea. With floods becoming more and more common, Thayer said the new county Legislature, set to take power at the beginning of next month, will most likely revisit the issue.