IT specialist gives update on tech systems; accounting firm relocates to city

by Laura Bednar

June 14 city council meeting

Information technology specialist Dawn Olsen, from Fairsite Technologies, updated Independence City Council members on integration of the “Tyler Technologies” management system into city departments.

Tyler software is designed to consolidate department databases and streamline communication within departments as well as with residents, according to Olsen. Affected departments include engineering, service, technical services and recreation.

Independence entered into a contract with Tyler Technologies last year, according to Mayor Greg Kurtz. Olsen is spearheading the implementation after former city employee Chrissy Lingenfelter left the project. Fairsite provides IT services to Independence, but Olsen was slated to become a full-time city employee July 1.

Tyler software is divided into three categories. Enterprise asset management allows city employees to see service requests directly, manage city assets (vehicles, street signs, detention basins, etc.) and store historical data, such as previous years’ spending.

Tyler 311, as Olsen explained, is a web-based platform where residents can submit a request for service and track its progress. MyCivic is a mobile app that provides the same service from a cell phone.

“It cuts down on the number of calls,” Olsen said.

She gave an example of a resident reporting a tree in the roadway. The request is routed to the appropriate department and after it is resolved, an employee marks it as complete within the system, and the resident is notified.

Olsen said in the existing system, an office administrator receives a request, sends it to a department, a supervisor assigns the task, employees tell the supervisor when it’s done, and the supervisor tells the office coordinator so he or she can file the paperwork.

“That is from my perspective, in 2022, a lot of analog processes that are being done that could be streamlined by having a system where everything can be tracked, be cloud based in one place,” said Olsen.

Service Director Ron McKinley gave an example of using the system to monitor vehicle maintenance or determine when a detention basin is broken. Residents can submit photos of issues through the system.

“The picture functionality is huge,” he said.

The now one-year-old project is coming to fruition; Olsen said all that’s left is a final testing of the system and training employees to use it. There will be a soft launch on July 25, with a formal announcement to the public to follow.

Councilman Jim Trakas asked if there will be training for the public. Olsen said information on Tyler will be sent to residents through the mayor’s office, and she would be available to answer questions.

Requests can still be made by phone but will be processed using the new system. A total of $250,000 was budgeted for the system, and Olsen said the current cost is $130,000. “That leaves us with the remaining amount for the next three years’ fees, and we still have a little bit allocated for future development and business processes,” she said.

Accounting firm

Winbridge-SBF, an accounting firm in Cleveland, is relocating to Independence. An offer letter from the city stated that Winbridge would relocate to 6450 Rockside Woods Blvd. and occupy 6,700 square feet for a minimum of seven years.

Independence is offering a three-year grant from 2023-25 to return 25% of the firm’s income taxes totaling $6,500 per year. The firm has 20 employees and must maintain an annual payroll of $1.3 million for three years following the grant period.

Prevention specialist

The city again partnered with Independence Local Schools to provide a prevention specialist, who is also a licensed social worker, to serve students and families through the early intervention/prevention program.

Prevention specialist Alexa Belcon will continue in her role with the city with a contract through the Educational Services Center. Her salary with benefits is $72,970. The city and school district split this cost, with council approving the city’s share of $36,485.

In a letter about the partnership, Angie Zidanic, clerk of court, wrote, “New data reported by the CDC indicates that in 2021, 37% of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year.”

Community Services Director Emily Thomas was quoted in the letter saying, “We’ve seen some amazing outcomes from the monthly meetings between Alexa and our Community Resource Manager Jennifer Zisk-Vitron ranging from connecting families with our Yuletide Hunger Program to ensure they had access to food during the holiday season all the way to hosting goat yoga for our high school students this spring.” ∞