IN - City, County considers combining data processing : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

By Peter Ciancone

A proposed agreement between Terre Haute and Vigo County would combine data processing efforts into the county's computing system.

Some say the plan would end years of difficulty the city has encountered with its payroll and sewage billing software.

It will be discussed initially at the County Council meeting April 10.

A report issued by Quest Information Systems of Indianapolis about the city's computing systems noted problems such as continuing Y2K glitches, poor data flow between systems, a lack of software updates and obsolete computer equipment.

In the proposed agreement, the county provides data processing capacity, information technology facilities, management services and support staff. The support would help the city with accounts payable and receivable, payroll, budget maintenance and personnel management.

The fiber-optic network cable already links the courthouse, City Hall and county offices on Oak Street.

For its part, the city would hire a new programmer, a position already accounted for in the Sewage Billing office budget, and a network technician financed by the City Council. Any savings the city would realize as part of the cooperation would be passed on to the county in an annually renewed agreement.

County data processing manager Tony Miller, who helped develop the plan with City Comptroller Margaret Lemont, said his office could handle the additional work load as long as he had the additional staff to support him.

"It would be more work for me, but I'd be getting another person to help me out," Miller said. He said the city and county already shared information that had to be manually keyed into the county's system. With assessor data, area planning information and sewage liens, the time saved by linking the systems would mean improved services.

"I think it would be a lot better on everybody," Miller said.

"Now all we have to do is sell the councils on it," Lemont said.

The agreement will have to be approved by the two councils, the Board of Commissioners and the city Board of Public Works, but questions remain.

City Council President George Azar said he was studying the proposal to see how much it would cost the city.

County Council President pro tem Brad Anderson, who is also chairman of the data processing board, said the idea was presented to them last week. He did not bring it to a vote at the board meeting because the board considered it a matter for personnel. Even though the plan called for the city to pay the salary, he said, the council would have to decide to hire another technician.

"Interlocal agreements are always kind of scary," Anderson said, noting a concern about whether the county would receive its fair share of the employee's time.

On April 10, the preliminary copy of the proposal will be on the agenda, as will be Miller's request for funding for the new technician.

Updated 3/27/2001

-- Doris (, March 29, 2001

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