By Chad Frey
Harvey County is caught in a tough spot — one that will cost the county cash.
The main computer server used for accounting by Harvey County administration is aging — and the county was recently notified there will be no more software upgrades or hardware maintenance available for the system.
"The AS400 runs all of our economic systems," said assistant county administrator Anthony Swartzendruber. "Replacing this will be an expensive venture."
Swartzendruber broke the news to county commissioners Monday during their regular meeting. He also told them how much making big changes to the accounting software — and the hardware which runs it — might cost.
There is the opportunity for the county to spend about $28,000 — a purchase that might buy the county a few years — but a wholesale change would be much costlier.
"A new system is about a quarter of a million," Swartzendruber said.
Monday he approached the commission just to give the board information — he was not wanting them to make a decision at this time.
It is a decision the commission is not prepared to make.
"We can't rush something like this," said commissioner Marge Roberson.
Roberson said she wants to avoid a situation like what was forced on the county by the state treasurer's office — a massive change to computer systems which proved to be problematic.
There's also the expense of it all.
The county could purchase a system for $28,000 — which was budgeted for in the 2011 budget — which would transition data to a system similar to what is already in use. That would come with up to a three year warranty and service agreement.
The county would have to make that decision this month to get the best rates on the warranty and service agreements.
"In the short term, we can get something with warranty and a maintenance agreement," Swartzendruber said. "Right now we are out of maintenance and upgrades on this system. We have an old system."
Commissioner Chip Westfall asked Swartzendruber to put a proposal together — a fact sheet the decision makers could take a look at before they made any kind of a decision.
If the county would choose to go with the $28,000 system, there are funds in place for that to happen.
"We have about $36,000 in an equipment reserve fund," Swartzendruber said. "We knew this was coming."
Swartzendruber said the county technical support staff and administration budgeted for some kind of new equipment last year, but held off as they knew a major transition was coming at the state level.
The state computer systems tie into vehicle tags and driver's license systems at the local level. The county chose to hold off until it was known what systems the state would be using.
Swartzendruber said administration was budgeting to start a replacement of the systems used for financial reporting in 2015 — but the news from software vendors has forced the county to consider replacements early.
"We can no longer get software enhancements or maintenance from the company," Swartzendruber said.