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Sunnyside attempting to get handle on glitches

TGIF is the message at Sunnyside City Hall, as staff continues to work out the bugs of a financial software transition.

That’s TGIF as in To Get It Friday, tomorrow, when the city council should be able to receive a budget report for the first six months of this year.

That timeline was discussed this past Tuesday during a Sunnyside City Council subcommittee on finance and administrative services meeting.

Interim Finance Director David Layden was scheduled to have a budget financial print-out for the first six months of 2013 at Tuesday’s meeting, but he said glitches Tuesday afternoon delayed it.

Tuesday’s meeting had been postponed from earlier this month for delays in issuing the same report.

Layden said the report should be complete in time to e-mail it to council members by this coming Friday.

The glitch is due to Sunnyside’s transition from the Eden accounting software package to one provided by BIAS software. Sunnyside made the switch to BIAS last November.

In comments Wednesday morning, Interim City Manager John Darrington confirmed the six-month report would be made available to council tomorrow.

Other municipalities using the BIAS program include the city of Stanwood and Grays Harbor County.

Tuesday night’s discussion also included updates on other transition issues that have been addressed, such as utility billings that reflected balances as unpaid even though they were paid.

Layden said the issue arose because BIAS intervened when there were hitches in utility billing, instead of allowing city staff to override the software and make corrections. Layden said he told BIAS, “You are not to step in and do it.”

Councilman Dean Broersma sits on the finance and administrative services subcommittee and said overall he likes the utility program, especially the ability to pay on-line.

Another concern about the transition is payroll, which is being switched over to BIAS.

One of the subcommittee members, Councilman Francisco Guerrero, suggested running a sample batch of payroll to catch any glitches in that aspect of the program.

“Maybe do a test run to make sure there is no information missing,” Guerrero offered in hope of avoiding payroll check issues. “Money is a sensitive subject.”

The other member of the subcommittee, Councilman Jason Raines, agreed. “That’s an excellent idea,” adding it would be good to run sample payroll items from different departments and pay grades just to ensure a smooth transfer.

Also discussed Tuesday night was increasing the city’s contingency fund. Currently it sits at just over $400,000 and Layden says ideally there should be a three to six-month reserve. In that scenario, the fund would have to jump to at least $1.5 million.

Layden says a sizeable contingency is needed because property tax revenues only arrive twice a year. He says reaching the $1.5 million threshold should be considered something that is more of a long-term goal over the next three to four years.

The subcommittee’s next meeting is set for Monday, Aug. 5, at 5:30 p.m. in the Law and Justice Center.

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