EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 29, 2012

Lantigua requests $1.4 million for cars, software and roads

LAWRENCE — The archaic paper record-keeping system that allowed $33 million in new development to go unreported for two years — costing the city $300,000 in uncollected taxes — would be replaced with computer software that would integrate records across City Hall, under a proposal Mayor William Lantigua sent to the City Council yesterday.

The $126,000 computer program is part of $1.4 million in major purchases and infrastructure improvements Lantigua requested, which would be paid for out of the $6.6 million budget surplus from the last fiscal year that was reported earlier this week.

More than half the $1.4 million would be spent on computer software to replace paper systems in several departments. They also include $300,000 to automate timekeeping and attendance records for city employees and $150,000 for a system that would track labor, materials and work orders in the Public Works and Sewer and Water departments.

Budget Director Mark Ianello said the efficiencies in the automated timekeeping system would save up to $500,000 annually, more than paying for itself the first year.

Lantigua asked for $500,000 more for road and sidewalk improvements, but did not identify which streets would be involved. Among the streets paved this year was Boxford Street, where Lantigua lives, which had been a five- or six-block stretch of craters and potholes.

Finally, Lantigua asked for $48,000 to purchase three Ford Focus vehicles for the parking enforcement officers who patrol non-metered parking areas.

The City Council will receive the spending proposal on Tuesday, when it is expected to be referred to the budget committee.

Daniel Rivera, the committee chairman, said he will oppose it. Rivera said the city should hold onto all $6.6 million of last year’s budget surplus to hedge against cuts in state and federal aid that he said may come as Boston and Washington struggle with budget shortfalls. He added that the problems in the Building Department that allowed 349 permits to go unreported to tax collectors in 2010 and 2011 were due to poor leadership, not paper technology.

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