Clay County's property tax software is now linked together.
On Thursday, representatives of LOW Associates, South Bend, were at the Clay County Courthouse to test the functionality of the current software and link together the systems used by the Clay County Auditor, Assessor and Treasurer offices.
LOW Support Technician David Riley told The Brazil Times the test is a part of a mandate set in Title 50 Article 23 of the Indiana Administrative Code which sets Computer Standards for a Uniform and Common Property Tax Management System.
"We also upgraded the systems used by the offices to ensure there is a smoother transition of information from one office to another," Riley said. "This is Phase II of the vendor certification which is required, while Phase I was the certification of the system on the state level."
The county currently utilizes Manatron and AS2 as its software vendors in the Assessor's Office, while the Auditor and Treasurer offices use LOW as its vendor.
"Manatron keeps track of information regarding real property, AS2 is for mobile homes and personal property and LOW is software used for billing and settlement, along with creating the abstract," Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh said.
One issue the offices have had was the information recorded by the Auditor's Office was having to be re-entered into the systems used by the Assessor's Office.
"This upgrade and test links the systems together to streamline the process making the same information available to all three offices without the need for reformatting for a particular type of software," Clay County Assessor mark Barnhart said. "It will also make things run smoother as all the information, like exemptions, will be up-to-date at all times for each office to access."
The county had the option to contract the work out to a private company or make the upgrades themselves, but with the help of other county-level elected officials and representatives from LOW, Clay County was able to save itself both time and money.
"A group of county auditors, assessors and information technology directors approached the state about acting as third-party testers to help save counties funding by not having to contract out with private companies for the state," Decatur County Assessor Tami Wenning, who, along with Decatur County Auditor Bridgett Weber, participated in Clay County's testing, told The Brazil Times. "We were able to create a consortium that travels to different counties to help make sure the software does what it is supposed to do."
LOW Support Technician Mike Lepay added, "There were a few counties that tried to do the testing on their own, but it didn't work out very well. We were willing to do the test for the county to take the burden off of them as well as allowing them to maintain focus on their jobs."
Wenning said through the process, the county was able to save somewhere between $6,000-$7,500 to complete the upgrade and conduct the testing.
From the perspective of county officials, the testing and upgrade were a success and will improve things in the long run.
"I'm glad things went well," Alumbaugh said. "Not only will it be a time-saver because we won't have to worry about the possibility of duplicating information, it allows everyone to be on the same page when it comes to what details are attached to a specific parcel at any given time."