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County going high(er) tech

March 23, 2013

Howard County commissioners are slated to meet Monday morning with the possible purchase of a new county-wide software system topping the agenda.

The software — produced by Tyler Technologies, the same company the county has used since 1992 — could cost the county between $500,000 and $600,000, according to County Judge Mark Barr.

Despite the steep price tag, Barr said the government body is in a situation where it will have to act soon.

“The software we currently have in place was purchased back in 1992,” Barr said. “Unfortunately, Tyler Technologies is no longer supporting it because it's so far out of date. So we have to look at updating our systems.”

Barr said the newer software being produced by Tyler Technologies offers more for its users; however, the switch will be a trade-off for everyone involved.

“This software is used by almost all of our departments. The county court, district clerk's office, county clerk's office, the justices of the peace,” Barr said. “The newer system is much more up-to-date than what we're using now. Instead of having servers on the premises, the system utilizes a cloud-based system using the internet. Also, the interface is much more user friendly.

“It's always a trade-off, though. Once we upgrade, we have to import all of the existing data to the new system, and that's a painful process. We'll also have to train everyonehow to use the new system, which is going to take some time and a real effort. It's not going to be a walk in the park.”

Barr said the county has discussed using software from a company other than Tyler Technologies, but that idea presents a whole slew of possible problems.

“We've discussed switching companies, however, it seems like you create more problems than you solve that way,” Barr said. “There's the issue of importing our existing data into the new system, which is really huge for us. If we switched companies, there are all kinds of glitches which present themselves. I really feel like our best bet is to go back with the same company.”

Also during Monday's meeting, the county is to once again discuss the local Porsche car club's request to use the old Howard County airport runway for auto racing.

“I really don't know what to tell you about this,” Barr said. “They approached us with a request to use the old airport runway for racing, however, the runway is in really bad shape. I mean, there are trees growing up through the runway in some places. We'll discuss it and meet with them if they show up. I don't really know that anything is going to come of it, though.”

Also Monday, Precinct 1 Commissioner Oscar Garcia is to offer discussion regarding Howard County contracting for road paving, as well as possibly take action on a residential or commercial driveway for a county resident.

The court is to meet with County Auditor Jackie Olson, who will present invoices and purchase requests. Howard County Tax Assessor and Collector Diane Carter will also speak concerning a purchase request for computer software for her department.

County Secretary Teresa Thomas will discuss personnel considerations, while Road and Bridge Administrator Brian Klinkseik will present proposed pipeline crossings and an update on county road maintenance. Klinkseik is also to request permission to sell used equipment and discuss residential driveways.

The meeting will get under way at 10 a.m. in the commissioners courtroom, located on the third floor of the county courthouse. Officials from Tyler Technologies will meet with commissioners at 2 p.m. to make a presentation regarding the proposed software. For more information, contact the county judge's office at 432-264-2202.

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