The city spends cash on financial software |

The city spends cash on financial software

To the average citizen, half a million dollars probably sounds like a lot of money for a financial software package.

But not to the city of South Lake Tahoe.

A $487,500 upgrade to the city’s financial software system was approved Tuesday by the South Lake Tahoe City Council. The new software would replace the current 19-year-old financial system, and address the great unknowns of 2000.

The steep price is for the purchase of Bi-Tech financial software, hardware, training and network upgrades. The system would be automatically updated on a quarterly basis, eliminating the possibility of it becoming outdated, a Bi-Tech representative told the council.

“Unfortunately, this is the beast we have to deal with,” said Councilwoman Brooke Laine of the costly decision. “I feel we’re going out and buying the Cadillac – but I feel the importance of the city’s business and the need for accurate financial information is a priority. I do however resent the fact that we’ve waited so long to review our options. Why wait until 10 months out to fix the (Y2K) problem?”

The financial software will serve all city departments, from the fire department to public services.

According to Assistant City Manager Sue Schlerf, the decision to spend nearly a half-million dollars – when most city departments have suffered severe cutbacks in the past few years and can’t even afford phone operators – was necessary to keep city business running efficiently.

“Part of why we are downsizing with people is because we are looking to technology to do the same work,” Schlerf said. “It’s part of the cost of doing business, you cannot meet the needs of a multi-million dollar (organization) without upgrades to technology.”

City staff reviewed a number of options, including several less expensive ones, before accepting a bid from Bi-Tech.

“It’s representative of the cost range of all systems,” said Kerry Miller, city manager. “We looked at systems ranging from $350,000 to $500,000. The cheaper systems would have done the job for the present but would become outdated in a very short time.”

Miller said $35,000 is included in the price for contingencies. Subsequent annual maintenance and support costs will be approximately $23,400.

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