During a discussion on Advanced Data Systems (ADS), a financial system that no longer receives technical support from its providor, Town Finance Dir. Carl Tomchik once told the Town Council, "If we don't move forward, we'll be trudging through the mud. This is a system that's dying."
Monroe Town Hall and Monroe Public Schools may soon be able to lay the dying system to rest, the Board of Education approved switching to Munis, a significant upgrade provided by Tyler Technologies. Munis is a system used by 1,200 clients, including 77 towns, for municipal governments and school districts.
The school board voted 6-1 to approve the contract during its Monday night meeting. The Town Council had previously tabled it, in part, to see if the Board of Education would agree to splitting the costs.
"Our motion was for us to purchase Munis in conjunction with the town, subject to us having a 50/50 split," Board Chairman Darrell Trump said Tuesday morning.
Trump said the funding for the Munis system is already in the 2012-13 operating budget on both the town and education sides of the ledger. The school district will draw its share from a $200,000 technology account.
Board Secretary Mark Hughes was the sole dissenter.
"I really don't feel that we were told that it was in that $200,000," Hughes said Tuesday. "Somebody was supposed to come back to us and have a breakdown of the RFP's or a better break down of what was going to be included. I don't think it's right to continue to take money from kids and the programs for projects like this, especially when we're not told what it's going to be used for."
Hughes also expressed disappointment that fellow board members Donna Lane and Dr. Alan Vaglivelo could not attend Monday's meeting.
"It was unfortunate that the entire board wasn't there for a more lively conversation on the issue," he said.
Munis is used for budgeting, payroll and other financial functions. Requests for quotes were sent out to encourage competitive bidding, but Dr. Craig Tunks, technology director for Monroe Public Schools, had said the only other company to offer a similar product to Munis was acquired by Tyler Technologies.
Gabriela DiBlasi, finance director for Monroe Public Schools, has said Munis would cost about $178,000 in the first year, split between the school district and the town. It will cost a total of $570,940 over four years.
Now it's up to the Town Council to make a decision.
On Tuesday, First Selectman Steve Vavrek said, "Munis is the best thing to move the town forward. It's going to open up communication with the Board of Education and town offices."
Vavrek pointed out that the system is an extension of a program by Tyler Technologies, which also owns ADS, and said Town Attorney Jack Fracassini's legal opinion is that a Town Meeting vote is not necessary to approve the switch to Munis.
State of the Art
On Jan. 26, a joint meeting between the Town Council, Board of Finance and Board of Education was held to discuss the need to upgrade the financial management system for both the town and the school district.
During a Powerpoint presentation, Tunks said the town and Board of Education cannot produce financial reports in the format required by the state with the ADS system. ADS is also not meant to perform some of the functions administrators want, such as having a seamless exchange of data between Town Hall and the Board of Education's central office.
Among the deficiencies of the current system, Tunks said it is slow and frequently crashes, counts employees working in several buildings as more than one person, does not always calculate correctly, and sometimes records positive numbers as negative ones and vice versa.
Several functions must be performed manually, including processing the payroll tax and preparing 1099R's. A decrease in staff productivity caused by deficiencies with ADS is also costing the town, Tunks added.
The Munis system would offer 24/7 technical support, an offsite server protecting data in the event of a disaster, additional revenue and payroll functions, easy access to information and it is known as a state of the art system, according to Tunks' presentation.