Regional District spending $48,000 to replace flawed finance software

The Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District will spend several thousand dollars to replace two important pieces of equipment.

The Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District has decided it will need to spend several thousand dollars to replace two important – but very different –  pieces of district-owned equipment.

At the board’s monthly meeting last Friday, the members heard from their head of Waste Management, Tim DesChamp, that the recycling depot needs a brand new forklift to replace the old one, which will require thousands of dollars of repairs a year to keep it running.

They also heard from the district’s treasurer, Jennifer Robb, that a recent independent audit found that the computer system used to manage the district’s finances is rife with errors and either needs to be replaced or be repaired and  improved by technicians.

With the district’s accounting system,  an audit was done recently that discovered over 2,000 errors in the system known as ACCAP, which is used by staff to keep track of all of the district’s money. The reason for the errors is because staff have had inadequate training on how to use it, the database has not received as much maintenance as it should, and the district has been using a “band-aid approach” to fixing errors instead of looking for the root causes. According to board member, Des Nobles, the software has caused nothing but grief for staff over the years.

Robb presented the board with three solutions: to simply have the staff make-do with the system as it is, to spend $16,200 repairing the current system, or spend $48,000 to put in place and train staff to use a better designed system using software meant for use by local governments called VADIM.

Robb argued that despite the higher price tag, the new system has many advantages such as round-the-clock support from the company selling the software, and that the district can draw on the experience of the many other communities already using VADIM.

The board decided to approve the purchase and installation  of the new system using the surplus funds left from the 2011 budget. It will take time to put the new system in place, so staff will have to put up with the current one  as it is until

spring.

As for the forklift, DesChamp said the Prince Rupert Recycling Depot’s current forklift is so old and well-used that it is quickly becoming unusable. By the Waste Management supervisor’s estimation, the district could put $8,000 worth of repairs into the machine and it likely only last six months before it broke down

again.

The forklift is even too old to keep as a spare or to sell used to someone else. DesChamp says the only realistic thing to do with it would be to sell it for scrap, but even then, they would only get about $1,000 for it.

Board members asked if it would be more cost-effective just to buy a used forklift instead of a brand new one. The problem with that, according to DesChamps, is that most used forklifts will also require regular maintenance and the nearest people to do that are in Terrace. He says that the money and time required for maintenance is not worth the money saved by buying used.

The new forklifts hefty price tag of $31,000 can be paid for with the excess recycling revenues from 2011, without needing to dip into the district’s regular funds.

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