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Sikeston's new software may help collection in state

Monday, December 4, 2006

SIKESTON -- Software developed for the city of Sikeston may soon help streamline tax collection throughout the state.

Over the past 18 months, City Collector Vicky Jordan has worked extensively with a national software company to create a tax program. "We're the first site in Missouri that has implemented this software program," she said.

Linda Lowes, director of governmental services, explained the project started when city staff met with several software companies to find a computer program that would perform all of the city's financial functions -- paying bills, collecting taxes, issuing business licenses while tracking their requirements, and interfacing with code enforcement and municipal court.

"Prior to 2005, the city had individual software programs that operated separately in each department. We did not share information, which is not the most efficient way to run a business or an office," Lowes said. "All of that is now in one software program."

The company selected by the city offered software that interfaces all the departments except public safety, she explained.

"We now have a great database for sharing information. We have experienced a reduction in input time and the amount of research time required to retrieve information," Lowes said.

The result is "tremendous cost savings already in the first year," she said. "And with experience, it will only get better."

There was one obstacle, however. While the software company had tax programs for several other states, "they did not have a tax program for the state of Missouri," Lowes said. "So when we approached them, they offered to write a software program specific to Missouri tax laws."

As the firm will now be able to market this software across Missouri, the city was only asked to pay for a portion of the development costs instead of the full cost, saving the city additional money.