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Jefferson County spends money on JCC, financial software and Soil and Water District
[July 03, 2013]

Jefferson County spends money on JCC, financial software and Soil and Water District

Jul 03, 2013 (Watertown Daily Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Jefferson County Board of Legislators approved resolutions Tuesday authorizing the spending of $4.7 million on Jefferson Community College, $1.24 million on a new financial software system and $85,000 on the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District.

First up was the adoption of the $27.9 million 2013-14 Jefferson Community College budget, which called for a $6.4 million contribution from Jefferson County and other counties whose residents attend the school. Most of that, about $4.7 million, is expected to come from Jefferson County as the sponsoring county.

State aid will cover 25 percent of the budget and tuition will cover 43 percent.

The college asked for a 3 percent increase in sponsor contributions from Jefferson County and for the creation of three new positions at the college: a faculty member who will teach about chemical dependency in the human services program, a faculty member who will teach culinary skills in the hospitality and tourism program, and an admissions recruiter whose job will be to expand the college's enrollment across the north country.

JCC President Carole A. McCoy said that these positions will help the college continue the growth it has experienced in recent years when she presented the budget during last week's Finance and Rules Committee meeting.

The JCC budget now awaits final approval from the state.

The board next approved a resolution to spend $1.24 million to update the county's 15-year-old financial software and hardware.

The county's system, which officials called "antiquated," was installed in 1998.

After spending two years soliciting staff input and reviewing several options, the board's information technology ad hoc committee narrowed a field of seven vendors to three choices before eventually selecting Munis, a $962,497 suite of products from Tyler Technology, Dallas.

The new software will feature a graphic user interface along with a host of standard features unavailable in the county's DOS-based New World Systems financial management system. It also will offer integration with Microsoft Office and the ability to communicate via e-mail within the system and to share documents, Web access and report design, according to the IT ad hoc committee.

Along with the main software package, the county is planning to purchase a $29,750 state Civil Service auditing package from a separate vendor, Catalog and Commerce Solutions LLC, Pittsford.

The Munis system comes with a $120,119 annual maintenance fee, something that will ensure the software is kept up to date with the latest technology, according to legislators.

The county also will spend $250,000 for a new mainframe computer, using $500,000 in a capital account for that purpose and putting the remaining $250,000 toward the software purchases. The money already has been appropriated, according to Scott A. Gray, the Finance and Rules Committee chairman.

The transition to the new software is expected to be labor-intensive and to take a year and a half to two years, Mr. Gray said.

Finally, the board approved a resolution to provide up to $85,000 to the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District to cover budget shortfalls that were revealed by an audit conducted after the former executive director, Brian J. Wohnsiedler, was found to have been mingling grant funds and borrowing against future revenue sources to stretch a budget that was running at a deficit.

After Mr. Wohnsielder's actions were revealed to the district's board of directors and reported to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, the state froze all grant funds to the struggling district earlier this year.

Mr. Wohnsiedler resigned after being confronted by board members but maintained that he did nothing wrong and that "using available resources has always been a practice." In order to start receiving money again, the district has to pay back $175,000 to the state.

By selling assets, consolidating positions and laying off two employees, the district managed to reduce that debt to $85,000.

Legislator John D. Peck, R-Great Bend, who also sits on the district's board of directors, said the district has emerged as a "meaner, leaner and better organization" after the trials of the last few months.

"This money that's being allocated tonight will be a good investment and will be paid back to the county," Mr. Peck said.

The final resolution of the night was a memorial for former Legislator Gino M. Zando, who died Jan. 25 in Carthage. Mr. Zando served as District 6 legislator, representing the town of Wilna and part of the town of LeRay, from 1996 to 2011.

Michael F. Astafan, D-Carthage, now occupies that seat.

___ (c)2013 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.) Visit Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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