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Amherst’s technology upgrade to come after two decades

The city of Amherst’s utilities and finance departments have been running on technology from 1999, says the city’s IT director. 

Amherst’s information technology director Steve Bukovac said during a city council meeting on Nov. 5 that the city can upgrade its software for no more than $150,000.

Bukovac said he and the IT team were tasked with evaluating the technological systems in the city and saw the need for new software quickly.

“One of the things that was real apparent early on was our current financial software and our utilities building software, which are both run by the same company,” he said. “These screamed out real loud not only because they are old but they are ancient in technology times.”

The departments’ current system uses two separate hard drives that use antiquated coding methods, which makes for more maintenance, Bukovac said.

“We want to eliminate as much manual intervention as possible,” he said. 

The improved software would still be run by the same company but would keep all data on a single hard drive, Bukovac said.

Bukovac said the new system would allow past individual resident and property records to be stored digitally.

“The big gain we’re getting here is the improved functionality, availability and improved services that we’re gonna be able to provide,” he said.

Amherst Auditor Derek Pittak also said the new system would allow creating budgets and establishing direct deposit easier and with less chance for error.

“I’m a big proponent of pushing for as much elimination of waste as we can when it comes to using paper,” Pittak said. “There is a tremendous amount of money we spend as a city on postage every year.”

Although not included in the city’s 2019 interim budget, the software upgrade is projected to be paid through the cable television fund in installments over three years.