County Commissioners Choose New Email Hosting Service, Follow Investment Recommendations

July 7, 2021 - The Shelby County Commissioners decided to move forward with a new email hosting service for the county to help offer increased protection from Cyber Security threats during their meeting held Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

The email hosting service the county utilizes is with the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) called CIRA (County Information Resource Agency).

"They are currently changing the hosting platform, they've done this before," said Clint Porterfield, County Auditor. "Currently we have something called Rackspace is what hosts our email service, before that it was something else."

Porterfield said he believes there is a push to bolster cyber security and TAC CIRA is going to move to Microsoft 365, and the commissioners need to review and approve the service agreement for Shelby County to be able to move forward with the new platform.

"They want us to choose the plan of service that we want, they want us to designate some email administrators so there's some work we can do in house without having to contact CIRA," said Porterfield. "There's also a website hosting agreement."

There are approximately 80 email users and Porterfield said it's around $2 a month to have CIRA be the host. With the chosen plan through Microsoft 365 it will be around $5 per user, costing the county an additional $4,200 a year for email service Porterfield said they has to have.

"We don't want to go at this point trying to change everyone's email address and look for a new hosting service," said Porterfield. "Especially with the information we already have, and the emails we have archived and everything, CIRA takes care of all that for us."

Porterfield explained the email plan that has been chosen is not the least expensive plant; however, it's the second least expensive plan which provides the most data storage.

To elaborate further on potential security issues, Jason Fulbright with Intelligent Computer Concepts addressed the court about the need for switching to the new platform not even being an option with, but a necessity.

"That's why a lot of organizations are shifting to this 365 platform, it's an inevitable move," said Fulbright. "A lot of larger organizations, government organizations, medical organizations, they're all transitioning to this product."

Porterfield said CIRA is trying to accomplish the transition by later this year. 

Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison and Roscoe McSwain, Precinct 1 Commissioner, inquired with Porterfield about administrators having access to user emails and he explained the administrators would only be available to help users reset their passwords, not to access their email accounts. 

Those administrators include Clint Porterfield, Ann Blackwell and Leah Chase. According to Porterfield, the Sheriff's Department has the most email users and that is why the Sheriff's Department needs a representative there to be able to administrate their emails.

A motion carried to move forward with the contract for the Microsoft 365 email platform.

The commissioners discussed the purchase of a new truck for the Precinct 5 Constable and a motion carried to write a letter of intent to help Constable Precinct 5 purchase a new truck or find one, at a $45,000 limit. Also for him to shop locally first. The vehicle being sought is a white ford F150 Police Interceptor to be paid for out of the coronavirus funds. 

Blackwell addressed the court about speaking with representatives of First National Bank of Wichita Falls Stewart Cobb, Senior Vice President Leasing, and Karen Hughes, Vice President Business Development Officer, regarding investment deposit options with them. 

"They have a large volume of business up there and they have a lot of places to go with money that is secured," said Blackwell. "Miss Hughes said that she has securities to collateralize up to $2,250,000 that she can place in a money market plus account which is paying 40 basis points."

Blackwell explained the county can access the money whenever needed and they can make up to six transactions in a month. 

"This would be our American Rescue Plan money, we got that $2.4 million, we can place this with them earn a fairly nice interest rate on it till we figure out what we can or are gonna do with it," said Blackwell.

A remaining cash balance that would be left in the bank, Blackwell would like to start investing back into rolling CDs which has been done in the past. She would have them staggered in the same manner as they were in the past starting one every three months and having each one mature in a 12-month time period. She said they would be $500,000 each.

"She's offering 12-month CDs at 70 basis points, that's just crazy right now. I just can't see why we wouldn't want to do that," said Blackwell.

A motion carried to revise the county investment policy to add First National Bank of Wichita Falls as an Approved Broker/Dealer for investments.

Commissioner McSwain remarked for the public's knowledge, "That's where we do borrow our money when we have to finance equipment."

"They are the only ones that have reached out to me to even talk about doing something like this," Blackwell said. 

Blackwell explained the plan is to open the money market plus account, investing $2,250,000 in that account to earn .40% (40 basis points), start rolling CDs with the first at $500,000 and then every three months start another $500,000 CD at 70 basis points, and pull $75,000 out of Texpool to invest in one of the CDs.

A motion then carried to follow the advice of the County Treasurer on a new investment strategy with First National Bank of Wichita Falls that has been approved on the county investment list

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1. Pay weekly expenses with the exception of invoice #196613.
2. Service Agreement with the Texas Association of Counties for email and website hosting services. This service Agreement pertains to new Microsoft 365 email platform.
3. New vehicle for Pct. 5 Constable.
4. Revise County Investment Policy to add First National Bank of Wichita Falls as an Approved Broker / Dealer for investments.
5. New investments.
6. Adjourn.