Training for the next group to go live on the PremierOne system has been in high gear for the last month. In mid-September, both the records management and CAD group had training for trainers that was presented by Motorola. This is often referred to as train the trainer or TTT. The design of this training is to give knowledge of the system to those who will be responsible for end user training. Typically the training will cover all aspects of the applications including features that departments might choose not to use. This is so that the users are aware of features should they decided to utilize them at a later date.
Mobile TTT took place in early October for both police and fire. Twelve police mobile agencies were trained over the course of three days. The following week was fire mobile training for seven fire departments. Additionally, CAD and records users were taught report writing with Report Builder, from Sequel Server Reporting Services (SSRS).
On Wednesday, September 28, LOGIS hosted the Minnesota Active Network Customer Owners Group (COG) Meeting. This is an annual meeting where users of the Class software and other Active Network software get together with representatives of Active Network to discuss current concerns and the future direction of the software systems. (Class is the LOGIS offering for Parks and Recreation software.) The COG meeting was well attended by Active software users from all over Minnesota (including representatives from outside the LOGIS consortium). There were even people attending from Canada.
The COG meeting provided a chance for users to get together and “compare notes” about how to use Class to its fullest advantage. One of the points the attendees were able to bring to the attention of the Active Network personnel was the need for a “Fitness Center Credit Application Capability” for the Class Membership Module. Fitness centers in Minnesota will often offer a service wherein if their members go to the fitness center 8 or 12 times in a month, their health insurance provider will credit their membership $20 for that month (essentially reducing the cost of the membership).
To accommodate this situation, the Class user must now run a report to determine how many times members in the program attended the fitness center for a given month. They must then manually credit each account that has qualified for the credit. For example, if 500 members qualified for the credit, the Class user must enter 500 manual transactions to record this. As you can imagine, this is very time-consuming and tedious.
Our Class users have entered an enhancement request for a “Fitness Center Credit Application Capability” before, but apparently Active Network never realized what a common situation this is for fitness centers in Minnesota. They are now aware of how important this is to Active’s Minnesota clients. We hope this will spur them on to include the enhancement to Class in the not-too-distant future.
We released the latest version of PIMS to all cities on October 6, 2011. The latest version included: corrections within the Septic module, addition of Project Approvals to the Project Information module, added a new Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) link for cities that use the Septic System, as well as other miscellaneous enhancements.
The Utility Billing Certification process prepares past due utility bill amounts for assessment against property owner real estate taxes. All of the LOGIS utility billing membership (except Hutchinson Utilities, which bills gas and electric) certify past due utility bill amounts to property taxes. The majority of our members certify these past due amounts in the fall, but there are several that process certifications in the spring as well as the fall of each year.
The Certification process transfers past due utility bill amounts from the originally billed AR’s to certification ‘holding’ AR’s. This action allows the city to identify and closely monitor these past due accounts, create certification letters informing the property owner of the potential certification, and apply administration fees. The certification notification letter to the property owner advises him/her of the potential certification of unpaid services for a specific time period and the date by which they must pay the past due amount if they wish to avoid that amount from being assessed against their real estate property taxes.
The window to process the certification can range from a week to three months, depending on the member’s policies and business practices. Some members move the past due amounts subject to certification immediately to their Special Assessment departments; others leave those past due amounts in the Utility Billing system until it is time for the certification file to be forwarded to the County. The past due amounts that are identified as certifiable to real estate property taxes are removed from the Utility Billing system once the certification file has been forwarded to the member’s Special Assessment department or to the County Assessor’s Office for collection.
When the transfer of the certification file to the County is complete, the County collects the certified amounts as real estate property taxes and becomes responsible to reimburse the member for those amounts, usually at predetermined intervals.
The City of St Paul made the decision to provide an easy, convenient, secure, and fully automated method for citizens and title companies to pay assessments and service charges.
St Paul, LOGIS, and US Bank worked together to setup the eChecks online process on a very aggressive time schedule. The web application displays real time assessments information, and a user can select what to pay and how much to pay on each item.
Once payment selections are entered the user can be redirected to the US Bank payment site to enter their bank information and complete the process. US Bank then transmits a remittance file of payments to St Paul on a regular schedule where it is processed to apply the payments to the correct property and assessment.
Until recently, LOGIS maintained and supported two Cisco Unity voice mail platforms for our members utilizing the IP Telephony service. There were a variety of reasons for having to support this complex environment which included items such as cost, functionality, and the future direction/support by Cisco.
A few months ago Cisco released version 8 of Unity Connection. The version included two very important enhancements: multi-tenant support and the ability to fully integrate voice mail with Exchange. These enhancements enabled us to move forward with creating a cost effective, high availability clustered solution for our members! By consolidating our members to one platform we have been able to simplify our environment, decrease staff labor and support, reduce hardware replacement (CRP) and maintenance costs, and provide a highly available redundant voice mail platform.
To date, LOGIS, the City of St. Louis Park, and West Metro Fire have been successfully migrated to the new clustered environment. This transition has been very smooth with little to no impact to our members’ end users. Our intention is to move the remaining members to this clustered environment by the spring of 2012.