During an evening where the Common Council members were often sparring over various issues, the proposal to purchase a document management system received broad support.
SIRE, or search, index, retrieve and exchange, will incorporate electronic documents as well as scanned documents to allow for staff at City Hall to share information. Documents such as invoices, checks, ordinances and resolutions would allow for greater sharing and transparency between departments, and also make many of these items available for viewing by the public on the city's website.
What this will mean in the short term is that meeting agendae, which are now available, will soon include the accompanying resolutions and proposals for all committees. The system is also set up to include video sharing, which may come in future years. This can mean common council and other videotaped meetings can be viewed, and even viewed in real time on the city's website.
The cost of the program was the only cause for concern at the Finance Committee meeting. The original budgeted amount of $17,000 did not include licensing fees, and server-related costs, and the workflow package that would streamline document sharing was also not part of the original estimate. The request made Tuesday night therefore came in at $45,250, or more than $28,000 over estimate.
Sharon Mueller, director of finance, said additional funds could be taken from the city's fund balance, which stands at approximately $300,000, but Alderman Keith Werner expressed concern over other expenses that may come up during the year that would also require those funds.
Others asked what return on investment there would be, to which IT Director John Wisniewski explained that he felt the reduction in handling documents and replication of duties would recoup the city's costs in two to five years. The SIRE system has been in use in other municipalities, some as large as Las Vegas, and has been operating for about 15 years.
The Common Council did not discuss the item when it came up for approval during the consent agenda portion of its meeting, and unanimously approved the measure.