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Software key topic for commissioners

December 11, 2012

Emma Puga Brown, right, outgoing county commission, receives a plaque from Howard County Judge Mark Barr recognizing her 18 years of service. (HERALD photo/Thomas Jenkins)

Howard County commissioners discussed implementing a new computer software system for county offices Monday, a move officials say will need to be put into motion quickly, thanks to a lengthy waiting list.

According to County Judge Mark Barr, the proposed software is manufactured by Tyler Technologies, the same company that supplies the government body's current software.

“If we go back with Tyler Technologies, it will allow us to import our existing and previous data, which is a very important feature for county offices,” Barr said. “They are currently phasing out the system we're using and will no longer offer support for it soon, so we need to move quickly on this issue. There is a year to year-and-a-half waiting period before we can get it installed by the company, so the quicker we get on the list, the quicker we can implement this new software.”

Barr said one of the primary issues the court must decide before moving forward with the project is choosing a server-type, both of which carry hefty price tags.

“We want to get feedback from the commissioners on what type of server to go with,” Barr said. “We can have our own server installed here, which will cost about $1 million, or we can go with a cloud-type server, which will allow us to access it through the internet.

“As with any system, this one has a few known problems. However, our existing software has problems as well, so it's just something we'll have to work with. I've talked with a number of government bodies that are using Tyler Technology's newer software and they all seem satisfied with it.”

All of the county departments impacted by the change — except the County Auditor's Office — have been provided demonstrations of the new technology, according to Barr.

“Jackie (Olson, county auditor) is supposed to get a demonstration soon,” he said. “Everyone here who has seen it likes it.”

Also Monday, Barr presented outgoing Precinct 1 Commissioner Emma Puga Brown with a plaque commemorating her 18 years on the court.
Brown was defeated by Republican challenger Oscar Garcia in the November election.

Commissioners also met with County Volunteer Fire Chief and 911 Director Tommy Sullivan to discuss the government body's lease on a radio tower. According to Sullivan, the property had originally been leased at $1,800 a year. However, the property owner had since passed away and the parcel had been sold to a new party.

“The new owner is asking for a lease of $3,000 a month,” Sullivan said. “That is still a very good price, however. I've talked to them about making the next lease for a five-year period and they seem open to that idea.”

The court approved the $3,000 lease. Sullivan said the radio tower currently serves the Howard County Volunteer Fire Department, Emergency Management systems, Howard County Sheriff's Office and County Road and Bridge Administration.

The court also met in an executive session, however, no action was taken. Commissioners are scheduled to meet again Dec. 21.

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