Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Billing Software For Water And Sewer Approved by Council

The Common Council on Tuesday night approved the expenditure of $110,000 for a new billing software system for the Water and Sewer Department. However, they did so with a collective tone that called to mind a reluctant father bailing out (this is the last time, I'm warning you!) an irresponsible teenage child.

Councilman Tom Serra was particularly peeved at the expenditure, noting that this was the third time in recent years that Water and Sewer was getting new software. A chastened IT Director Bill Oliver assured him that this time it would be functional.

The current Water and Sewer billing system is from Northern Data Systems. Director Guy Russo explained to the Council that it made too many mistakes, "In three billing cycles we have yet to put out a bill with quality."

In response to leading questions from Councilman Bob Santangelo, Russo said that it was imperative that a new billing system be purchased as soon as possible, so that it could be operational in time for the May billing cycle. He said that after extensive research, his department, with the support of Oliver, had chosen a system from Continental Utility Systems. Continental specializes in Water and Sewer, and Russo expressed his confidence that the new system would be successful.

Several Council members, including Linda Salafia and Deb Kleckowski, asked Oliver if Continental Utility would be integrated with other city software packages. Oliver told the Council that it would not immediately interface with the Tax Collection software, but that when the Tax Collection software was upgraded, integration with the Water and Sewer software would be a priority.

Councilwoman Mary Bartoletta asked Mayor Dan Drew what safeguards the city would have to ensure that this software purchase would produce the promised result. Drew said that he would be negotiating a purchase contract with Continental Utility, and he would make sure that there would be language in the contract which protected the city.

The resolution approving the purchase was passed unanimously, albeit with many exasperated sighs on the part of the Council members.

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