Nacogdoches County approves joint software purchase with city of Nacogdoches

By ANDREW GOODRIDGE
The Daily Sentinel

The county commissioners voted to approve a $700,000 computer software purchase that will lead to a long-planned centralized dispatch system for law enforcement.

The county and city commissioners separately approved a joint purchase of the new computer-aided dispatch software that will allow both agencies to communicate more effectively. The county will pay $532,000 toward the purchase and the city will cover the remaining $268,000.

The commissioners approved a contract that allows for payment in three installments, County Auditor Keith Barber said, with the first payment of $202,000 coming December, the second payment of $175,000 due in February, and the final payment of $154,000 to be paid in June. Barber said the city will pay its portion in two installments, with the first payment due in June and the second in November 2009. County Judge Joe English said the city will pay less toward the purchase because the county has needs that the city does not, such as a software module that regulates jail activity.

Currently, the Nacogdoches Police Department and the sheriff's office do not have the capability to pool their information in a single computerized database, English said, but the new software will allow both agencies to access information on the same system.

“Now, if you have a warrant in the county and you get pulled over in the city, you'll just get a ticket because we don't share that information,” English said. He noted that there are more than $7 million in unpaid fees and fines in Nacogdoches County, and the centralized law enforcement database will help the county collect some of that money.

The current DOS-based software that the sheriff's office uses dates back to 1993, English said, so the new purchase will be a considerable upgrade. Also, English said the company that makes the product, Spillman Technologies, provides free upgrades to their program, so the county will not have outdated software in a matter of years. However, the purchase comes with a yearly $67,000 maintenance fee that will go into effect in 2010.

Sheriff Thomas Kerss made a presentation to the court in support of the new software. Kerss said the software has a number of features that will allow officers to better serve the public.

“This allows us to break down barriers between the city and the county,” Kerss said. “It's a lot about safety. It's a lot about efficiency. But it's all about what we do for our citizens.”

Nacogdoches Police Chief Jim Sevey also spoke in support of the new purchase, saying the current software his department uses is “antiquated.” Sevey said the new software will create reports that will help officers identify trends in criminal activity so patrol officers can be more effectively allocated throughout the area.

Two citizens attended the meeting to object to the cost of the software package, but the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the purchase. The commissioners used leftover funds from last year's budget, so the court did not have to spend from the 2009 fiscal year account.

“We didn't raise taxes, and the county did a good job about not spending frivolously. So we had some money left over to buy the new software,” English said.

English said the new system will be a useful, affordable, and long-term tool that will benefit just about everyone.

“It's good news for the county. It's good news for the taxpayers. But it's bad news for the bad guys,” English said.

The commissioners also accepted an award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting. The county was recognized by the Government Finance Officers Associate for a tri-fold brochure the auditor's office produced last year that summarized the 2007 fiscal year financial report. Barber said this is the first time Nacogdoches County has won the award. Each year, only three counties are honored with this award, Barber said, and this year, Nacogdoches County was recognized with Harris County and Williamson County.

In other business, the commissioners:

– Approved a Declaration of Support encouraging employee opportunities for a healthy lifestyle.

– Heard the October treasurer's report.

– Approve line item transfers for the fiscal year 208 year end adjustments.

– Paid invoices.