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City looks to new software to save hard cash
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The city will soon be changing its Recreation Tracking Software at the Civic Center. The current software is used to keep track of patrons who pay monthly fees and memberships, as well as keeping track of facility rentals, activities, and pool admissions and pass memberships. It was also used at the pool concession stand utilizing a touch-screen system.
“It was used for everything we do,” said Parks and Recreation interim director Greg Wanamaker.
Wanamaker spoke to aldermen Tuesday night at a meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee and outlined a new software package for the Civic Center.
“Our current system is called Active Net,” Wanamaker said. “And it’s going to be deactivated March 1. We’ve had this system in since 2008. My opinion is this system is expensive, the tech support was inconsistent, and the system was unreliable.”
The software cost the city approximately $5,000 per year.
“They take a percentage of your revenues plus a maintenance fee,” Wanamaker said. “So it varies. But I backtracked and it was around $5,000 per year to upkeep the system, not including some supplies you had to buy.”
Wanamaker said the Civic Center is looking at a system that is not quite as all-inclusive, but had other benefits, including cost.
“We’ve researched a new system called RecTrac from Vermont Systems Inc.,” Wanamaker said. “That has been in use at the Manchester Parks and Recreation Department since 2003.”
Wanamaker said his staff has looked at the software in operation and is impressed with it.
“The system is simple, user friendly and less expensive to use on an annual basis,” Wanamaker said. “The Parks and Recreation department there has no problems with it and highly recommends the system.”
The software would be used for the same purpose as the current software, with a few differences. Rather than have the system be used for point of sales, the Civic Center would use cash registers at the front desk and at the concession stands, since it is much simpler to use cash registers and run it through the system the next day. Wanamaker says that alone will save around $2,500 per year.
“So we thought we would try that,” Wanamaker said.
The new system will cost around $2,200 per year straight annual maintenance fees with no percentage charged on revenues.
“It’s $440 per application so we’re saving a little by not using the point of sale,” Wanamaker said. “And keeping it simple.”
The total cost of the software is $19,876 including installation and training. The Civic Center can use its current computers, but the memory will have to be upgraded, which will cost around $250. The Center will also have to purchase two new bar code readers, one for the front desk and one for the pool. The old system was slow to operate and ended up causing lines on occasion.
“You had to go through three or four screens just to make one simple transaction,” Wanamaker said. “It held lines up when the computer was slow.”
Rather than cards with a photo, the new system will use key fobs, which is a lot less expensive.
“The printing costs on those cards was fairly expensive,” Wanamaker said. “And you had to buy new cards and new printer tape. This should be simpler, and 2,500 fobs come with the system price. That’s a lot. With what we’re doing now it will take us a while to use those.”
The money is not budgeted, but according to city administrator David Rutherford it can be found in the current budget.
“I just hope we’re not going to totally trash that other system in case we have to go back to it,” said Alderman Jimmy Haley. “When we voted on that before we were talking about expansion. It’s like the geothermal, we did it and then everybody said we were going to expand and make the Civic Center bigger and add an indoor pool, and you know how that’s turned out.”
“I think your expansion can go with this system,” said Rutherford. “One thing Greg didn’t mention is if we want point of sale that’s something that can be added. It seems to have more flexibility than the system we have.”
The motion to purchase the new software passed unanimously.