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County upgrading software for efficiency [The Jamestown Sun, N.D. :: ]
[March 22, 2014]

County upgrading software for efficiency [The Jamestown Sun, N.D. :: ]

(Jamestown Sun, The (ND) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 22--A software upgrade for Stutsman County's appraisal and taxation programs is intended to increase efficiency -- and will pay for itself in 12 years.

"Overall, I think everyone's thoroughly impressed with the software," said Josh Smaage, Stutsman County's director of information technology.

The technology upgrades are replacing an IBM iSeries the county has had since about 1995, and the system was about six years old at that time as well, Smaage said.

Upgrades and technology changes had been done to the system, but it wasn't a graphical interface with a point-and-click arrangement like that of Windows, Smaage said.

And the current workforce is generally most used to a point-and-click graphical interface.

The upgrades encompass several different products, all from Tyler Technologies. The upgrades are: -- Document Pro, recording software that allows the recorder's office to scan and index all documents that come into the office, from warranty deeds to mortgages. The price tag was $33,199.

-- Infinite Visions, financial and accounting software that allows departments to more easily deal with budgetary and payroll information and enter that in themselves. The cost was $85,349.

-- Orion, appraisal software for land and buildings, which cost $42,549.

-- Tax-Wise, for tax billing. While the other three Tyler Tech programs have worked well for Stutsman County, its officials are looking at replacing Tax-Wise, Smaage said, because it doesn't have some of the North Dakota items requested and some of its functions have been described as "cumbersome." Tax-Wise cost $117,003, and the county is looking at replacing it with a different product from Tyler Technologies, Smaage said.

The annual maintenance cost of the programs will be $30,643, which will increase at 4 percent per year for five years.

"Our prior system in 2015 would have cost us $36,191 in support, which increases at 5 percent per year in accordance with the contract," wrote Casey Bradley, Stutsman County auditor/chief operating officer.

The new software also operates off less expensive servers -- $10,000 rather than $67,800, Bradley said.

Generally, it's "good practice" to replace a server every five years, so those costs make a difference, Smaage said.

"Also, it's just easier for us to maintain," he added, noting that the county was able to share a server with the city of Jamestown, which further decreased costs.

Operations like converting reports into PDF format -- easy to print or read on a screen -- will be much faster.

More upgrades in the future More technology upgrades lie ahead for Stutsman County, though, as it hopes to work on the property tax information portal on its website,

Currently, people can click on "Property Tax Information" to see information about various pieces of land in the county -- but any ownership changes made since October 2013 aren't included, Smaage warned.

"That is one thing we're trying to get fixed. It is a concern," he said.

One addition already made to the county's website is its "Report a Concern" button, which allows people to comment or critique anything county related and send it to the right department.

The button floats at the top right-hand side of most parts of the county's website.

"We've definitely done more stuff website-related to be more transparent," Smaage added.

There's also a property tax calculator, accessible by clicking on "Property Tax Calculator" in the middle of the front page of the website, which will allow people to estimate their property tax values.

And the county places its roster of jail inmates up too, updating it every 15 minutes, Smaage said, all accessible via the county's website.

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by email at ___ (c)2014 The Jamestown Sun (Jamestown, N.D.) Visit The Jamestown Sun (Jamestown, N.D.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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