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York City Council looks to new budget software after $1.3M system falls short

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Tom Ray, right, talks with an attendee before a York City Council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. The council approved appointment of Ray to head the city's business administration department during the meeting. Bill Kalina photo

York City Council is expected to vote Wednesday on the purchase of new budgeting software, a month after The York Dispatch reported that city officials had spent more than $1 million trying to make the existing software work. 

The City Council is slated to consider a resolution to purchase the software, OpenGov, for $58,000 annually, according to its agenda. 

The city's search for a new budgeting system comes after the city has spent about $1.3 million on purchasing and later upgrading its financial software, Microsoft Dynamix AX. That software is still incapable of handling the city's budgeting needs, officials have said. 

"The shortfall is that Dynamix doesn't do budgeting the way the city currently needs to do budgeting," said Tom Ray, the city's business administrator. "(OpenGov) would be a 100% improvement over what we have."

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Although the city would still use Dynamix for other financial processes, new budget software would streamline a variety of measures, including cutting in half the time required to craft a budget, Ray said.

More specifically, OpenGov would generate forecasts based on spending and revenue in real time, something the current system cannot do. It would also allow the city to more easily manage its spending.

The new software could particularly benefit the city as it struggles to pass balanced budgets because of rising pension and health care costs. The city is anticipating a $3 million increase in pension costs this year alone.

But OpenGov would fill just one hole among many in its current system, which deals with a larger range of financial tasks.

"It's a really, really bad situation," said York City Council President Henry Nixon, adding that the system exemplifies bad business practice and is "untenable."

In 2017, city officials only looked at an upgraded model of the Dynamix system before purchasing the software. They later realized they had purchased a base model that can't handle many key functions required for compiling city finances, Ray said. 

Since 2017, the city has spent about $900,000 maintaining and upgrading Dynamix. The software initially cost $550,000, but the city received a $150,000 grant to offset the costs.

Even after years' worth of investments, electronic bank reconciliations, a grant management tracking module and real-time financial logs remain an issue, Ray said.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.