MADISON — The town will partner with the county to bring information technology services to the town office.

County commissioners approved the partnership earlier this week on a six-month pilot program that will begin Jan. 1.

Town Manager Dana Berry said that if the program is successful it could be used to streamline IT services in towns throughout Somerset County.

“It provides the opportunity for the county to expand services to other towns. I think if we can get more towns to use the same equipment and services we might be able to save money,” he said.

The pilot program will include a review of the town’s existing technology, development of a three- to five-year plan to upgrade hardware and software, troubleshooting and maintenance services, and access to technical experts on current and future technology.

In addition, the county will act as a central supplier for the town to buy hardware and software at potentially lower costs and will share the cost of the program.

There shouldn’t be many costs for the pilot program, said interim County Administrator Earla Haggerty, and any will be split evenly between the town and the county.

Peter Smith, director of technical services for Somerset County, said the county already provides IT support to many of the area’s public safety offices, including police in Madison, Pittsfield, Fairfield and Skowhegan, as well as the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department.

“We have the ability because we have the space and technology and we have a new and robust system in place,” he said.

Smith said that IT costs are high and it can be expensive and inefficient for small towns and police departments to hire their own IT staff. The county has five IT technicians and is looking to add one more, he said.

“For us it’s a small amount of work to integrate them into our system. It saves them money and creates more stability here,” he said.

Earlier in the year, the county also entered into a partnership with Franklin County to provide IT services to their county offices.

Franklin County Commissioner Gary McCrane said the county has saved between $25,000 and $40,000 by eliminating the need for a full-time IT services employee.

“It’s more efficient than hiring our own person. Most of the work is done remotely, but if not, service is only 20 minutes away,” he said.

McCrane said Franklin County officials will still make their own decisions buying hardware and look to Somerset service people for recommendations on software purchases.

He said the county would probably plan to continue working with Somerset unless one of their municipalities came forward with a better plan for shared IT services.

“We like working with the adjoining counties if we can,” he said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

rohm@mainetoday.com