City reaps reward from software

Published 11:00 pm Friday, October 7, 2011

When Alton Starling suggested the City of Troy invest nearly $200,000 in accounting software, he knew it would be beneficial. And only two years later, he has nearly $100,000 in proof.

When the City of Troy purchased the Incode software in 2009, it was “in the front of the pack” in utilizing the integrated government services system.

“It basically integrates everything,” Starling said, explaining that the software links all the city’s departments – such as utilities and licensing – to the accounting department. The software provides centralized billing and accounting and allows for better tracking of accounts and customers.

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“Here’s a success story: In the first year we had the software fully installed, we generated $95,000 in additional revenue in the licensing department,” Starling said. “We didn’t increase any fees or any rates … that’s just capturing the licensing fees for folks we were missing.”

And that tracking and billing system generated a 17 percent increase in revenue from the licensing department. “When you consider that most of our fees are $50 or $100, that’s a lot of folks we weren’t capturing,” Starling said.

In areas such as the utilities department, the software provides an online bill payment interface that allows for immediate tracking and response. “If you were at home paying your bill online and your husband walked up to the counter to pay the bill, the system would instantly recognize the payment you’d made online and update with a payment pending,” Starling said.

And capabilities such as scanning and digital reconciliation of payments and bills in the utilities department have allowed the city to double its efficiency in some areas. “Before, we had two people: one who took the checks and tallied them; one who took the bills and tallied them. If the tallies matched, one person made entries into the computer,” Starling said. “Now, one person can take all the checks and bills, scan them in, and be finished in less than 45 minutes.”

While many of the benefits are internal, others are direct benefits to the taxpayers and residents of Troy. Dianne Leveque, building and license fees revenue officer, cites her ability to provide information to customers and assist them. “I had one man in here the other day and he wanted to prepay for his 2012 business license,” she said. “I said, “just a minute, let me pull that up on the computer and we’ll take care of it.’ Before, we couldn’t accept payments in advance like that.”