Even as the city announced last week the implementation of its new software system for municipal court, the IT staff expects to expand its use to other departments through 2017.
The city also expects to pay off the initial $11.7 million expenditure into 2017 and has the option for an additional $1.5 million per year maintenance agreement for three years after that, IT Director Sue Farni said, following a news conference last week.
“We don’t actually own the software, we just lease it,” she explained.
The city budgeted $2.2 million for the Tyler Technology software last year, but didn’t use the entire allocation, Farni said. This year’s expenditure is roughly $1.9 million. Additionally, the city will pay implementation fees, while some hardware is included in the $11.7 million figure and some is not.
“You kind of estimate what you need and included in that is some of the hardware we needed,” Farni said. “Some of it we’ve found we needed to buy extras of.”
Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s spokesman George Talbot added that the city has shelled out about $118,029 in overtime since implementation of the system began, for a total of 47 people working 3,517 hours on the project.
The contract between the city and Tyler includes other expenses such as travel, which was estimated at more than $200,000.
Tyler Technologies spokesman Tony Katsulos said implementation of the software for Mobile is on time and on budget, and for the most part, Farni agreed. She admitted there have also been a few hangups. For instance, she said there was an extremely large block of data that needed to be added during the implementation of the court system’s InCode software.
“They brought over an enormous amount of data and trying to clean it up has been a real job,” she said.
Another issue arose in the ongoing implementation of the financial system, Farni said.
“One of the sticking points was the city does their financial reports, but with budgeted monthly figures and actual monthly figures,” she said. “Tyler had never had a city that wanted to budget by the month.They had an annual budget amount. We had to go back to Tyler and say, ‘this is how we want it.’ So, we’re a little bit late on loading our data.”
The city also had to update the software in May while implementation was still taking place.
“It’s version 11.1,” Farni said. “We were implementing version 10.5. In [the new version] there was a bid management program and there were real advances in purchasing some things that weren’t available.”
Farni said updating the software in the middle of implementation did cause a small delay, but didn’t result in any major problems.
“We had to redo … the process review because the processes were different in the new version,” she said. “But because we’re all cloud-based, we don’t have to load any software or go through everything … we hadn’t trained any users so they’re looking at the new system and we don’t have to go back and retrain them.”
With the completed implementation of Tyler’s InCode, the administration believes the processes at Government Plaza will run more effectively and efficiently. Court Administrator Nathan Emmorey said the software system will allow for the placement of payment windows on the ground floor of the building. He said now, people paying fines and other court-related expenses must be screened by security and ride the elevators up to the second floor. The move is meant to cut down on delays and traffic.
Before the software implementation, some processes in Mobile’s municipal court dated back to the 1980s, Stimpson said. Presiding Judge Holmes Whidden said the new software would help speed up case management.
“The days of waiting two to three months for an arraignment or a trial are long gone,” Whiddon said.
However, not every city that implemented the Tyler InCode system for municipal court was happy with the outcome. In a previous Lagniappe story, Gulf Shores Clerk Kenneth McKenzie said the Gulf Shores municipal court used the software for about four months before switching back to its old system.
Scottsboro, Alabama, also uses Tyler software for a number of municipal systems, but Finance Director Rick Wheeler said the city’s municipal court hasn’t been fond of it. One issue cited was a high number of transactions that Wheeler said the software couldn’t process. But by now, the issue might be fixed, he said.
Scottsboro uses other Tyler programs, like a financial application first installed in 1998. Wheeler said the city pays a $90,000 yearly fee for the service — a lot less than Mobile’s fee because it is based on population.
Overall, Scottsboro has been pleased with the software, Wheeler said.
“You’re going to have problems with any software,” he said. “The big thing is letting them know of any problems.”
In addition to Scottsboro, the Alabama cities of Birmingham and Huntsville use Tyler Technologies. Katsulos noted larger cities such as San Antonio and Dallas in Texas also use Tyler software for municipal court. Based in Maine, the company has a total of 13,000 municipal, county and school board clients nationwide. Katsulos said implementation of Mobile’s court software is expected to continue through the early part of next year.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).