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January 8, 2013

New billing system purchased for Jeffersonville

Connie Sellers named council president

JEFFERSONVILLE — The Jeffersonville City Council narrowly agreed to purchase a new billing system for the city that will cost more than $600,000.

City Controller Monica Harmon presented the contract with BS&A Software to install a new financial and utility billing system which includes equipment upgrades, a new server and 39 new work stations. The total cost of the proposal was approved at $605,400 and included $50,000 for an outside consultant to manage the installation of the new software.

Harmon explained that many of the other cities that made software conversions had issues setting up the new systems. The consultant is designed to eliminate any problems that may occur with the installation of the system.

And the system comes with a guarantee.

“[If] we don’t like it after a year, we get our money back,” Harmon said.

The funding will come from three sources. Money was also dedicated by the city’s Sewer Board, totaling $74,600, which was previously approved, and $23,700 is expected to come from the city’s Drainage Board. The city council was left with the $507,100 remainder.

Harmon said $250,000 in the controller’s budget will cover the cost for this year, but an additional $278,000 would need to be dedicated next year. Financing a two-year payment plan could cost an additional $29,500.

But dedicating money for 2014 before the council knows what it will have to cut out of the city’s capital purchases budget caused several council members to voice their objections.

“Can we approve a capital expenditure before we know what the circuit breakers are going to be and where our budget’s going to be when it comes back from the State Board of Accounts?” asked Councilman Matt Owen. “I think it’s bad business to start approving projects now, because that’s going to start the line out the door for other capital projects.”

Councilwoman Lisa Gill also asked whether or not it was considered to update the current system through Keystone, the city’s provider.

“How can we justify the taxpayers paying $500,000 for software [when] Keystone can train and operate for free?” she asked.

Harmon said Keystone was asked to provide a proposal, but did not meet all of the requirements the city had. She added there would likely be additional costs if the city stayed with its current system and it would still not meet Jeffersonville’s needs.

“Every time you make a change in software you get an upcharge,” she said. “While Keystone is a very good product for a small town or a small city, every city that I have spoken with ... has moved to a different platform and a different vendor because they don’t offer the broad spectrum of data and technology that you need to do what a larger city as complex as what we do has [to do].”

Wastewater Superintendent Len Ashack said Jeffersonville has already made a $200,000 to 300,000 investment in a program that tracks flood system and treatment plant costs that will integrate with the new software. He added that the current billing system does not integrate the city’s departments and it is labor intensive to send out late notices to customers.

“We’re losing $1 million a year by not being able to have a flexible software plan to allow us to do sewer bills and drainage bills for that matter,” Ashack said. “In order to keep the rates down, we’ve got to collect the revenues,”

Harmon said it will take about nine months to implement the system and have it up and running and will eventually net the city a savings of what it costs to install the system.

In addition to the upfront costs, there are annual maintenance fees of about $50,000.

The motion to approve the contract with BS&A Software — with the $29,500 out of initial cost to come out of the Local Option Income Tax fund — was approved 5-4, with Council Members Zach Payne, Bryan Glover, Gill and Owen voting against.

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