Franklin County commissioners agreed Wednesday to hire a consultant the county has been talking to since 2008 to finally get its new software system operating.
Commissioners first hired Accent Business Services of Vancouver, Wash., to help develop a request for proposals for financial software seven years ago, said Auditor Matt Beaton. That was before the largest public embezzlement in state history was discovered in Franklin County.
The plans to put in a system to replace the county’s 30-year-old software were put aside with the recession, Beaton told the Herald after the meeting.
“They were aware of the aging software system and they tabled it,” he said.
In March 2012, shortly after firing Dennis Huston, the former accounting and administrative director in the public works department, the county agreed to buy SunGard’s ONESolution financial software for $1.1 million.
Huston is serving a 16-year prison sentence after admitting to stealing $2.8 million over 22 years to support cocaine and gambling addictions.
Commissioners have added new staff to help department heads install the software, but it is still not operating.
The project was estimated to be finished nearly a year ago, Commissioner Bob Koch said.
Commissioners hired Accent and CEO Jeff Tompkins on Wednesday to provide consulting services for $84,102 to finish the project.
“He brings in the structure. He’s done this his entire career. And then he just pushes through. He’s the guy who can, basically, upset everybody on the team and still move forward,” Beaton told commissioners. “Internally we’ve pushed this as far as we can, and we’ve added the staff. Now we need the structure and the expertise.”
Commission Chairman Brad Peck asked Beaton to give a percentage on how much of the project is complete. Beaton said the software should be operating for accounts payable within six to eight weeks, but he didn’t have an estimate for the other areas.
“In these kinds of projects, it’s not easy to put a percentage on it,” he said.
Tompkins said their services are likely needed for about a year. He will work with Chief Deputy Auditor Jeff Burckhard, the on-the-ground project manager, and Tompkins plans to give commissioners regular updates.
Commissioner Rick Miller said they should have hired the consultant at least six months ago.
“We need to get this thing going,” he told Beaton. “I think we need the professionalism you suggest.”
Also Wednesday, commissioners approved a Verizon cellular tower near the intersection of highways 260 and 17, west of Connell.