By Jordan Cohen
The city spent $225,000 on billing and departmental software that failed to perform to expectations since its installation in 2011, according to information presented to city council Wednesday.
“We put the system in for auditing, accounts payable and [utility] billing, but the software was too labor-intensive and hit-and-miss,” Auditor Charles Nader said. “This was not software written for a municipality.”
Nader said the city decided it had enough and stopped paying the software provider, Cogsdale Systems of Canada, in August. Niles had been paying more than $7,500 monthly to lease the software from Cogsdale.
Tom Telego, billing manager, said instead of saving time, the system caused delays in collecting delinquent utility payments. Making matters worse, Telego said Cogsdale rarely responded to the city’s requests for help.
The billing manager said the software caused more problems than the 22-year old computer programs it replaced.
Asked why it had taken so long for the city to cut its ties with Cogsdale, Mayor Ralph Infante said it took “at least a year to implement” the software and he hoped the system would work out.
The city did request bids for a new system but received only one for $191,000. The mayor said that bid would have enabled Niles to own the new software after several years. Council, however, decided to table a proposal to contract with the unidentified bidder because the offer did not include a program to support data communications between departments.
“We would be wasting money if the other departments can’t communicate with each other,” said Councilman Steve Papalas, D-at large.
Nader also warned that finding software to do all the things council wants could get quite expensive.
“You could be looking at spending upward of $400,000,” the auditor said.
While the city undergoes a performance audit by the state, Papalas and other council members said they want to consult with the state auditors before taking their next step, which may be to again advertise for bids.