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Michigan County Calls Special Meeting About Cybersecurity

The Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners is expected to approve the purchase of two additional software services designed to protect county systems against another major cyber attack.

Cybersecurity lock on a background of passwords
(TNS) — The Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners are calling a special meeting to address two urgent issues: renewing an employment contract and purchasing new cybersecurity software.

The meeting is 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Governmental Center.

County Administrator Nate Alger's contract expired June 30, said board Chairman Rob Hentschel, citing the (June 12) cyberattack and the work to restore county systems for the delay.

"Of course, he's continued to work since then and we expect to renew his contract on Wednesday," Hentschel said.

This spring, Alger earned a "meets or exceeds expectations" grade from a majority of county commissioners, making him eligible for a 5-percent salary increase starting this month.

He currently earns $193,850 annually, plus a $500 per month vehicle allowance.

Annual salaries for a county administrators range from $68,902 to $743,599, with a national average of $159,398, according to compensation research site

To supplement input from board members, Alger's direct staff participated in an anonymous performance survey earlier this year. While the survey results were generally positive, some areas of improvement were also noted, said county Commissioner Ashlea Walter.

Alger became county administrator in 2018 following 23 years in the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office, including time as undersheriff. He also previously served as an elected member of the Village of Kingsley council.

Alger earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Central Michigan University with a focus on public administration. Outside the workplace, he has coached softball at Traverse City Central High School since 2014.


On Wednesday, the board also is expected to approve the purchase of two additional software services designed to protect county systems against another major cyber attack. The cost, which is not yet specified, will be shared with Traverse City government. The two local governments have long shared many information technology resources.

One of the software services will monitor county IT systems for "abnormal activity" in a more comprehensive way. The other purchase will help safeguard key data functions using a cloud-based service that is constantly updated, officials said.

On June 12, a sophisticated cyberattack forced county IT officials to shut down the main computer network serving many county and city departments. The computer-aided dispatch system used by Grand Traverse 911 also was affected, prompting first responders to rely on radios and cellphones for vital communications.

In late June, when about 80 percent of local government systems were restored, the board authorized a migration to a new cloud-based dispatch system from Tyler Technologies, Inc.

That migration is estimated to cost about $231,000 in upfront, one-time fees, plus about $301,000 in annual fees going forward — an increase of approximately $167,000 from the current annual services contract.

County Finance Director Dean Bott said much of the extra cost from Tyler Tech will be borne by the 911 surcharge fee on all cellular devices, although some of the excess cost will be allocated to specific departments. The county is also eligible for a $98,000 prorated credit for unused portion of current agreement.

Meanwhile, Traverse City commissioners voted June 24 to upgrade its cyber insurance policy to cover up to $2 million in aggregate costs.

While the county has an existing cyber insurance policy, the terms and limits of that policy are expected to be discussed at an upcoming board meeting.

© 2024 The Record-Eagle (Traverse City, Mich.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.