The Houston Board of Aldermen was handed information on purchasing a new computer system or upgrading current hardware and software at a work session held June 10. No vote was taken on the change.
“I wanted you to be aware of our process and what tasks the city does,” said Houston City Clerk Janie Dendy. “It’s time to replace our computers. Many are old and worn out and I hate to say no matter what you do, it is going to be expensive.”
Dendy presented aldermen with a variety of options from new hardware and software to outsourcing some of the city’s computer work. Price tags for purchase or fees for outsourcing ran from $35,000 to $29,000 with outsourcing based on a percentage of the money handled.
The city was told outsourcing billing for city taxes, water services and school taxes could be handled by Three Rivers Planning and Development. Under this option Three Rivers would charge a flat fee per account and the city could pick additional services for an additional cost.
Dendy said the city could let the county collect city taxes. She said the county would charge 5-percent to collect city taxes and 5-percent to collect school taxes for the City of Houston.
Dendy also contacted area accounting offices of Tom Byrne CPA and Watkins, Ward & Stafford CPA about handling city payroll which would include payment for insurance and taxes.
“I know this is a lot of information and numbers,” said Dendy. “I will be glad to have any of these vendors or people come in and talk to you if you need more information.”
City Hall currently employs four people in the office and Dendy.
“I just want to know if this would be cheaper and would it save us money,” said Ward 4 Alderman Willie Mae McKinney. “Would we do away with anyone?”
Dendy said outsourcing payroll and city water utility bills would reduce the work load. She also pointed out if the city started collecting their own taxes it would be more work.
“I think this is something we need to chew on for a while,” said Houston Mayor Stacey Parker. “We asked for this information and it is good information to have. I do think we need to realize we have an old computer system and some of those computers are going to go out on us someday. I want us to think ahead and not make this an emergency fix.”
No decision was made last week.