CARY — The computers were among the oldest in Cary Town Hall – but they’ll be an upgrade after a 40-mile trip to the town offices in Benson.
In a show of municipal goodwill, and an illustration of two towns’ different fortunes, Cary’s town government is sending surplus computers and network devices to Benson in Johnston County.
“Even though the equipment being considered for donation is between four and six years old, it is newer and more capable than Benson’s current equipment,” Cary staff wrote in a report to the town council. “... This equipment would give them several years of service at a time when they cannot afford to replace their existing equipment.”
Benson, population 3,311 as of the 2010 Census, has barely a fiftieth as many residents as Cary, and has not enjoyed the larger town’s decades-long influx of residents and businesses. With its budget tight and residential growth slow, Benson is saving money for a fire truck and turning to grants to fund a single new police car this year.
“We’ve tried to be as frugal as possible,” said Town Manager Matt Zapp. “We’re bigger than small, but we’re smaller than medium size. We’re in that pubescent changing period.”
Zapp first turned to the University of North Carolina’s School of Government seeking relief from the ever-longer hangs and freezes of aging computers. A bit of networking put him in touch with the town of Cary, whose staff found a dozen Gateway-brand desktops and four networking devices to donate.
Cary leases computers on three-year stretches, but had kept the surplus equipment long enough to pay it off. In all, Cary staff estimate the equipment would have been worth about $3,000 on the second-hand market, where most of the town’s surplus goes.
Benson will give the computers to its utility billing staff and some administrative staffers, while the heavy-duty equipment will strengthen the town hall computer network.
It’s unclear when Benson will have its “Christmas in July,” Zapp said, but he’s already thinking of how to thank his counterparts in Cary. “We’ll send ’em some Johnston County sweet potatoes, if that’s what it takes,” he said.
Kenney: 919-460-2608 or twitter.com/KenneyOnCary