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Tax computer bugs require costly exterminator
By Trent Seibert Denver Post Staff Writer
April 19 - The bill to fix and maintain Adams County's faulty tax computers will come to $100,800.
That's the cost of a county plan to hire an expert from the now-defunct Texas computer company that sold the $400,000 computer system to Adams County.
The expert will be paid $8,400 per month to oversee the system, which the county treasurer's office discovered to be flawed soon after it was installed.
For example, a computer glitch shorted the Mapleton School District $1.5 million. Other bugs in the system caused fire departments around the county to be given less money than they were due, as well.
A full-time expert is needed for computer support and to fix any additional bugs that surface, county officials said. The county commissioners on Monday agreed to hire the expert for at least one year.
"That's the only choice we have right now," said commission Chairwoman Elaine Valente. "Whether this is a long-term solution or a short-term solution remains to be seen."
The county's computer problems began last year, soon after county Treasurer Helen Hill installed the computers and software purchased from Dallas, Texas-based CPS Systems.
The system was so compromised that the treasurer's staff faced computer woes, such as system freeze-ups or unbalanced books, nearly every day.
Technicians from CPS were often needed to fix the computer's flaws. CPS employees were flown in so often that they spent $15,000 on travel and hotel costs, which the county paid for.
Adams County was not the only county to report problems. Many government entities from across the country complained about the computers sold to them by CPS Systems. Indeed, Douglas County purchased a similar system and faced similar problems.
County officials there are still deciding what to do, but will likely purchase a whole new system.
"We'd like to go to a totally new, updated, modern system," Douglas County Treasurer Marilyn Green said.
The costs to Douglas County have not yet been calculated, Green said.
CPS Systems filed for bankruptcy Jan. 19. The company was dissolved in March, and could obviously no longer provide support to Adams County.
"We're optimistic and hopeful that this will work out," Valente said of the new hire.
-- - (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 19, 2000
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