Ward 2 Councilman Melvin Priester Jr., who was voted the new council president on Tuesday, believes the city is on the right track with the new upgrades. Trip Burns/File Photo
The City of Jackson spent close to a half-million dollars this week as part of its ongoing efforts to update its technology systems, many of which are old and outdated and need upgrading; other systems need to be completely overhauled.
In all, the council approved seven software-related purchases, including for permitting, security management, JATRAN, and the city's employee time clock and payroll systems. The votes came after the council worked out some bugs with Mayor Tony Yarber and members of his staff.
Ward 4 Councilman De'Keither Stamps took aim at a pair of items that total $420,000.
One agreement, which is from Madison-based VSS LLC for a hyper convergence system to integrate the city's Kronos (time clock) and payroll system, was for $269,000. A second VSS contract, which is for security management, was for about $151,000, Stamps said.
Stamps wanted to know whether the upgrade would also benefit the city clerk's office, which the council oversees, or just the departments under the mayor's control.
Earlier this year, the council purchased a new government transparency system, which has not been implemented, and other software for the clerk's office.
"We want to make sure that the upgrades can absorb everything we need," Stamps told the Jackson Free Press today, referring to other systems that will come online in the future.
Other software the city is working to implement includes programs that enable officials and the public to track public-records requests and analyze the budgets of city departments. Stamps said the city also wants an online-storage system for documents dating back to the city's founding.
"If the IT department wants to slow down and stall processes ... I don't think that's a good way of doing business," Stamps said during the meeting. "I don't want any more stumbling blocks."
Yarber objected to the idea of the IT department stalling and said that voting down the contract would slow down completing the city payroll; eventually, the item passed unanimously. In late August, the city's customer care and billing system, part of the $91 million Siemens contract, will go live after months of delay.
Ward 2 Councilman Melvin Priester Jr., who was voted the new council president on Tuesday, seemed encouraged that the city is on the right track.
"It's a very big deal for the city to be able move to letting people do business with the city online," he said. "It's how the 21st century operates."