Categories: Schenectady County
City Controller Heather Reynicke has a small stack of returned envelopes on her desk because the city’s current computer system is not able to update the addresses of city residents.
Reynicke would like to ask that the Common Council approve enough money to purchase a new software system that would alleviate this and other problems and bring current technology to City Hall. But she said she is reluctant unless she has the unanimous support of aldermen.
And while at least one alderwoman is opposed unless the purchase is coordinated with Montgomery County, with which some city departments deal regularly, Reynicke says she is hoping the new administration will encourage the support she seeks from the council.
The new system would allow all of the city’s departments to communicate with one another electronically, reduce inaccuracies, increase efficiencies and allow residents the option of conducting business online, according to Reynicke.
“The residents deserve accuracy, which we don’t have, and timely service, which they don’t get,” she said.
Reynicke was authorized in April to send out a request for proposals for a new software system. Two companies, Tyler Technologies and KVS Computer Services, submitted proposals.
Reynicke asked that city aldermen select a system twice, but failed to gain the unanimous support of aldermen.
Reynicke recommended the purchase of the software from Tyler Technologies because the company offered the city a better financial package. The system would cost nearly $150,000 at first and about $16,000 annually to maintain. Currently the city operates through the county’s computer system, which costs $66,700 to maintain. Reynicke said the city would recoup the system’s initial cost in a little over two years.
According to Reynicke, the new system would have many benefits, the most important of which is that city departments would be able to communicate with each other and other municipalities. For example, departments like the assessor’s office, mandated by the state to run on a separate system, aren’t compatible with the county system. Reynicke said the Tyler Technologies software would automatically update the assessor’s software with correct addresses and property tax payments.
Most operations within City Hall are still handled manually, so the occurrence of error is greater. The new system would likely lead to a decrease in City Hall visits for payment of parking tickets and other basic fines, tax payments, and building permits, Reynicke said, because the new system would allow for all those transactions to be done online. Fewer people coming into City Hall and less paperwork would help improve employee efficiency, she said.
“During collection season, it might take a check a month to clear because there is just so much mail to get in here,” Reynicke said.
Housing Inspector Luis Aguero said he likes Reynicke’s proposal because forms for building permits could be downloaded online.
“The only way you’re going to get more work out of me is if you alleviate all of this paperwork I have to do and allow me to go out into the field more,” he said.
Alderman Joseph Isabel, R-1st Ward, said he is in favor of a new system for City Hall.
“Anything that will allow our departments to communicate is what we need,” Isabel said.
Alderwoman Kim Brumley, C-3rd Ward, said she is not in favor of purchasing the software recommended by Reynicke. She said it is the responsibility of the county to update its system and share it with the other municipalities.
“Any time we can share services with the county it’s a plus for the county and city residents,” Brumley said. “There is no sense going off on our own to duplicate what the county can already do.”
Brumley said she has been in contact with county officials who said they would be willing to update their system and share it with the city.
“I have to believe they were being sincere,” she said.
Reynicke said she would not go through with the resolution unless she had the support of the entire Common Council.
“That’s just the way I operate,” she said.