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TMCNet:  County to get new computer software

[February 20, 2013]

County to get new computer software

Feb 20, 2013 (The Jamestown Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The county computers have used nearly the same software since the 1980s and are due for an upgrade, the Stutsman County Commission decided Tuesday.

"We think we found a solution to our existing software. This definitely is a platform that's more viable long term," said Casey Bradley, county auditor/chief operating officer.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to a proposal presented by Tyler Technologies, contingent on Stutsman County getting out of its contract with its current software provider, CPU, of Morris, Minn.

Commissioners also unanimously authorized hiring a contract attorney for a consultation on the contract with CPU.

"We've had multiple problems" with CPU, Bradley said. "... if we do anything, we should consult with an attorney before things go forward." The new software for Stutsman County's taxation, finances and recorder documents will be point-and-click software with a graphical interface like those of most modern computers, rather than the "green screen" interface based on function keys and prompts -- which is what the county uses now.

A "green screen" isn't as good for productivity, said Josh Smaage, Stutsman County's director of information technology.

"Everyone nowadays is more used to the point-and-click interface ... and now that we have a bit younger crowd ... they're definitely not familiar with those older systems," Smaage said.

The up-front costs for the new system are higher than the costs of the old, but even factoring in those extra costs, the new software would save money in comparison to the old software beginning in 2025 because apart from the first year, annual costs are lower.

That doesn't include the staff time that will be saved by the system, which is expected to be easier for new staff to learn, allow data to be exported into spreadsheets and other formats and allow secure data access over the Internet.

"It's a huge, huge time savings," Bradley said.

Stutsman County currently allows several other counties to use its software for a fee of approximately $3,300 per county, and representatives of three of those counties have said they are not interested in changing software.

However, Bradley said, other governments in North Dakota are interested in working with the Tyler Technologies software, so it may be possible to make up that money with new partners, such as the city of Jamestown.

The cost of the software for 2013-2014 would be $288,100, including the three software modules and all the related services -- project management, training, conversion, installation and setup.

However, the cost of purchasing a new server needed to maintain the old software was estimated at approximately $70,000, in addition to the maintenance fee of the old software -- approximately $35,000.

Annual costs of the new software are cheaper than those of the old system after 2014.

The projected cumulative costs of the two systems get closer and closer each year until 2025, when the total paid for the Tyler system becomes lower than the total that would have been paid for the old system.

The software changeover was not budgeted for, and commissioners will have to borrow money from a subaccount in a general fund to pay for it.

That money will be paid back over time with a temporary levy increase of a mill, leaving the subaccount at the same level.

In other news Tuesday, the commission: --heard from Jim Fettig, courthouse maintenance engineer, about a project to increase security and comply with safety requirements at the Stutsman County Social Services building. The project will cost approximately $30,000 to build walls and doors with electronic locks, eliminating the use of keys to get into the building, and $10,000 for panic buttons for the staff.

--received a letter of intent from Geronimo Energy about its project 15 miles north of Jamestown. The project will consist of up to 134 wind turbines with a height of 499 or fewer feet. The company intends to begin construction by the end of the year and complete it by the end of 2014.

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at klucin@jamestownsun.com More from around the web ___ (c)2013 The Jamestown Sun (Jamestown, N.D.) Visit The Jamestown Sun (Jamestown, N.D.) at www.jamestownsun.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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