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City, county work to link computers in various departments

Thomson and McDuffie County are hoping to create a one-stop shop that will help update information across departments and cut down on some of the local bureaucratic red-tape.

McDuffie County and City of Thomson IT Director Kelly Evans is looking at ways to help the local governments consolidate their technical efforts. The plan is to link the computer systems at the local planning commission, 911 center, tax commissioner's office and government utility offices, among others.

For example, when a new house is entered into the planning board system, it also needs to be added to tax office system and 911 system. Currently, all three have separate computer programs.

"Right now, any person that is building anything has to go several places before they can get anything completed," Mrs. Evans said, adding that the county is probably 10 to 15 years behind in that aspect. "This will make that process fairly paperless and seamless."

She said she is still working on a time frame and a firm cost estimate for the work.

"I know we can do it, but I'm figuring out now what it will take, how much it will take and how long it will take," she said.

Part of that planning may also include incorporating needed network lines into the planned government complex.

And the funding issue may already be solved. Officials at the city-county retreat earlier this month suggested some of the excess sales tax money -- possibly as much as $600,000 -- could be used to pay for part of the projects. Other money may come from future penny tax collections.

Planning Board Director Fred Guerrant said the computer system would certainly speed the process of disseminating information across county departments.

Now, for example, information may take one to three weeks for the 911 system to receive updated information and three months for current property information to reach local tax officials.

"It's going to be quite a comprehensive program, quite intensive to get it up and running on line," Mr. Guerrant said.

And there's also a side benefit for his department. The new system would allow for customers to apply -- and possibly pay -- for permits on-line.

"Everyone would benefit from that," he said.

McDuffie County 911 Director Tracy Neal said the new system would serve as a backup to information he receives from the telephone company.

When a person calls 911, their name, address and phone number is shown on a computer screen. That information is provided by BellSouth, Mr. Neal said.

"Our system has got to be extremely accurate," he said. "This will help us ensure that accuracy."

Web posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005


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