October 30, 2014

Sims approves new water billing, tax software

Holds off on assessor software decision

Posted

SIMS TWP. — The Sims Township board approved the purchase of new software for its water billing and tax rolls and payments April 16, but decided to hold off on purchasing new assessing software until a new assessor is hired.

The utility software, along with 1-2 days of training and unlimited phone support, was approved unanimously at the cost of $1,560. The tax software was an additional $16,520 and was approved in a 3-1 vote. Trustee Rod Francis was absent.

The software was purchased through BS&A Software, and according to Supervisor Robert Quackenbush, the programs will be able to communicate with each other and save township staff time.

“All of the programs talk to each other,” he said. “We can use these on our current network. Our network would allow integrated features, like when a tax payment is received through the optical scanner, it will identify which bank account it should go to, which operator is signed in, when to send disbursements. It will do the identifying for us.”

Quackenbush said the optical scanner was part of the software package. The utility billing software should also let the township set up an online payment system for residents, he said.

The idea of getting new software came up initially during the board’s March 19 meeting, but the board balked at the original proposal’s $40,000 price tag.

Treasurer Grace Pichan argued that, as Sims Township counts more parcels of land than almost anywhere else in the county, the existing software is insufficient.

“The current system is cumbersome and of out date,” Pichan said. “The rest of the county doesn’t count as many parcels as we do, for our number of parcels is greater than the others.”

“It costs less to run 800 tax bills than 2,400, so I want to make it more efficient,” she added.

Since Sims Township is seeking a assessor, the board decided to table purchasing new assessing software until the members know who will be taking up the role. Trustee Janis Howard said if the person they hire already has their own assessing software or is uninterested in a new program, it would be a waste of money.

The township also has the option to set up an off-site file server for $2,000, which would allow it to back up all its files outside of the building. In case of a catastrophe, Quackenbush said they would not risk losing everything.

The township board did not act on the server proposal, but Quackenbush said it was worth looking into for the longer term, and he would inquire to make sure the township could upgrade its network later and still have the software work fine. In January the township board approved getting an external hard drive to back up files, but a server would protect them in case of a fire or natural disaster, Quackenbush said.

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