Livingston still struggling with Y2k software glitch (CA San Joaquin valley) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread,1113,120359,00.html


Livingston still struggling with Y2K software glitch

By PATTY GUERRA BEE STAFF WRITER (Published: Thursday, December 09, 1999)

LIVINGSTON -- Christina Smith may very well spend January writing a whole bunch of checks on a typewriter.

For Smith, Livingston's finance director-assistant city manager, the Y2K computer problem is more than a threat; it's a very real possibility. An update of the city's computer accounting software, designed to make it compliant for 2000, didn't work.

Livingston is the only city actively pursuing a fix to a serious glitch in its Y2K preparations. Officials in other Northern San Joaquin Valley cities have not reported any problems with their computers.

"The software functions fine," Smith said. "It just won't function in the year 2000." Some computer systems will not recognize 2000, misreading it as 1900, leading to concerns about power failures and other system problems as the clock strikes midnight Dec. 31.

The very real possibility that might happen to the city's accounting software led Smith to ask the City Council for permission to look for new accounting software with a different company. Her request passed 4-1, with Councilman Richard Van Guilder voting against it because the cost could be as high as $100,000.

"I can't support this," he said. "What if the software comes up to par?"

Smith said continuing troubles with the company led to her proposal Tuesday night.

"That's why we didn't look sooner," she said. "It's very costly, especially for a city our size. Supposedly, the software (upgrade) was going to be ready in May."

In October, representatives of the company, MCS Spectrum, came to Livingston to install the new software and train city employees on its usage, but it still didn't work.

"We ran into all kinds of problems with the software," Smith said. "They've been working on it ever since."

Officials at MCS Spectrum, based in Niagara Falls, N.Y., did not return a phone call for comment. The company's Web site acknowledges that some of its software is not Y2K-compliant but says it will be updated.

According to Smith, MCS Spectrum has come up with another upgrade. She sent the city's data to Niagara Falls, where it will be converted and sent back to Livingston next week in a format that company officials said will function into the new year.

Utility bills present the biggest challenge, Smith said.

"We will get a printout as of December, then any payments will be recorded by hand," she said.

Staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at 381-0208.

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 09, 1999

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