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New software services add up to savings for taxpayers

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New software won’t make anyone happier about getting their twice-annual property tax bill.

But the $122,000 software package being purchased for two Bartholomew County offices is expected to result in quicker and more accurate bills, fewer delays and eventual savings for the county.

“This will be better in terms of efficiency and lower cost,” said County Commissioners President Larry Kleinhenz.

The PVDNET Web-based application was purchased from Government Utilities Technology Services (GUTS), based in Thorntown. The software is designed to incorporate the auditor and treasurer functions into one integrated property-tax management system.

New tax billing software for Bartholomew County

Software: PDVNET (for Treasurer’s and Auditor’s Office)

Manufacturer: Government Utilities Technology Services in Thorntown

Prime advantages over current software: Improved maintenance and support for half the current cost. Allow all data entries to be shared between the two offices.

Price: $122,000

Software: INcama (for Assessor’s Office)

Manufacturer: X Soft in Indianapolis

Prime advantage over current software: More user-friendly and better developed for tax assessment purposes than existing software and current version of PDVNET.

Price: $186,000 (includes first-year maintenance and support)

The new system is expected to become operational after the first of the year.

Kleinhenz said the county has wanted to replace the current MVP tax software for almost 15 years.

“We’ve had a lot of issues,” County Auditor Barb Hackman said. “The support is what we’ve really seen a decline in. That’s what has triggered this over the years.”

One of the biggest problems was that nearly all of Indiana’s 92 counties once had to obtain the MVP Tax software for compatibility reasons. Hackman said while the previous vendor changed its name occasionally after being bought out by different corporations, the lack of support remained the same.

In recent years, other software companies have emerged to provide competition and are perceived to be delivering better services to the counties.

On its website, GUTS states it maintains a strong support staff to help clients experiencing challenges and reduced budgets. They include business and technology professionals who specialize in utility billing, tax billing, IT management, Geographic Information Systems, business processes and tax sale services.

Hackman said introduction of competition into tax-billing software in Indiana also will mean less taxpayer money being spent every year.

“The annual maintenance and support will be the cost savings,” Hackman said. “It will be about half of what we have paid annually. In maybe six years, it should pay for itself, as well as create efficiencies in our offices.”

One efficiency of the PVDNET software is that it will enable the auditor and treasurer offices to share the same data with one another. That is expected to eliminate the need for each office to type the same information twice.

Another efficiency is that software updates containing changes made at the state level will be included with the maintenance and support system.

The software also automatically calculates adjustments to gross assessed property values such as deductions, exemptions, abatements, appeals and tax increment financing considerations.

“We’ll be able to get reports out more quickly, and it will result in more efficiencies within the three offices,” Hackman said. “All of this will mean more timely service to the Bartholomew County taxpayers.”

Unfortunately, the new software will not be installed for this year’s tax-billing purposes. Reassessments, as well as recent tax changes at the state level, have slowed down the calculation of gross assessed property values.

County Assessor Lew Wilson said he was tempted to also share the PVDNET software with the treasurer and auditor. Instead, he opted last August to purchase the INcama software from the Indianapolis-based X Soft company for a cost of $186,000, which includes the first-year maintenance.

“GUTS is great for the treasurer and auditor, but we do different things in our office,” Wilson said. “After listening to five presentations and talking to other assessors, I’m convinced that X Soft is the way to go. It fits our proposes, and won’t be as time-consuming for our staff.”

Wilson added that since GUTS only recently added assessor’s tools to PVDNET, he doesn’t feel the software is fully-developed for assessment purposes.

Kleinhenz said the PVDNET software was originally supposed to be funded through the county’s general fund. However, it is now being purchased from the commissioners’ budget.

Since the normal deadline to pay the fall installment of property taxes falls on a Saturday this year, Bartholomew County taxpayers will have two additional days to pay their tax bills.

Property taxes must be paid on or before Nov. 12.

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