The Canal Winchester Times

City ready to spend $54,000 on software upgrade

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Canal Winchester is considering the purchase of new computer software that will improve efficiency and give residents the ability to make online payments and receive their utility bills via email.

Canal Winchester City Council heard the first reading June 2 of an ordinance authorizing the city to purchase the new system from BS&A Software of Bath, Mich. The total cost for the system will be $54,125 to be paid out of 2014 funds, with an annual support fee of $12,030.

Finance Director Amanda Jackson explained the features of the new enterprise financial system to council at its June 2 meeting.

"Currently, our software is through the Ohio Software Services, which is software that does our financial system and our utility billing and our community development processes," Jackson said.

"But these are all separate systems, so right now, we have one computer that has the financial software, one that has the utility billing and three that have community development."

Jackson said this means the staff is required to manually enter information from one system into another, which causes transcription errors as well as a lot of wasted time.

"Our software requires a lot of manual entry and we don't have an audit log, so we aren't able to see who's been accessing the system," she said.

"Also, only one person can access the financial system at one time, and only from one computer in the office."

The new software integrates these separate systems, offers an audit trail and better security, and can be integrated into the city's new website, Jackson said, giving residents the ability to pay online and receive billing statements via email, as well as allowing staff members to access the financial applications from their individual desks, instead of only from a shared computer.

As written, the current appropriations legislation would use general fund money for the purchase, but the deal could be altered later to a financing option if necessary.

Council heard the first reading of the ordinance June 2 and was expected to approve it at the June 16 meeting, after ThisWeek's press time.

According to Jackson, council approval of the legislation will allow the city to get on BS&A Software's installation schedule, but at this point, the initial installation won't take place until late fall, with a "go-live" date for the software in spring 2015.

Council members agreed that this is the right step for the city and its residents.

Public Works Director Matt Peoples said this has been discussed for nearly 10 years.

"It's been a long time coming," he said.

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