For budget-strapped municipalities like Harlan, a fourth-class city with a population of about 2,000, investing in an advanced software package could actually increase revenue, said Chris Strom, who presented information on Capital Software, a northern Kentucky-based company that serves more than 100 municipalities in the United States.
"This is an investment," said Strom, explaining that his company provides free training for employees in charge of day-to-day operations. "There is no gray area about 'will you be successful.' You will be successful."
Strom said the software package would eliminate the "manual" operations at city hall and "accurately track and report all revenue" coming into the city. He said the package would be especially beneficial in collecting delinquent property taxes by calculating "to the day" back-year taxes.
"These are real money savings, and time savings, that happen," Strom said, adding that the system could be used for "10-plus years."
The software package would cost the city about $12,000, Strom said, if paid up front. If the city should opt to make payments, the total would come close to $18,000.
Mayor Danny Howard said the city will begin to consider the investment by first collecting references on the company.
"This is one of the things we've talked about. I'd like to see us pursue looking at this," Howard said.
In other news, the council:
-- Entered into a short executive session to discuss liabilities regarding the city's current health care package for employees. No action was taken, Howard said.
-- Approved a five-year television franchise ordinance with longtime cable provider Harlan Community Television Corp. City attorney Scott Lisenbee has said the agreement "is basically the same agreement" as before, with the exception of the length of the contract, which was 10 years. The council held its first reading of the ordinance during its June meeting.
-- Announced that the city will be paying a $2,000 fine ordered by the Kentucky Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet for the city's combined sewer overflow, which local and state officials have attributed to early infrastructure. The city is developing a long-term plan, as mandated by the Cabinet, to improve its sewer system.
Howard said sewer violations have also occurred in other cities, including Frankfort, Lexington and Louisville, where fines ranged from $30,000 to $1 million. He said the state is working with different city officials to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from stepping in.
-- Agreed to sign a resolution with the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority to release a $200,000 grant for the Rosspoint sewer line extension. City engineer Leo Miller said the design phase of the $4.3 million project should be completed by the end of the month. Other funding has also been secured for the project in recent weeks.
-- Miller said remaining Environmental Protection Agency funds for the Harlan to Ages sewer line extension project will be used to eliminate a combined sewer overflow in Fairview and to replace four aging or failing pump stations with one pump station. Miller said sewer lines will be relocated, and the new pump station will be located near Don's Super Saver.
Miller also reported that the Grays Knob sewer project is finished. He said the city has received $134,706 from FEMA on behalf of the county school system, which partnered with the city to complete the project.
-- Accepted a $10,792 quote from KVWV Traffic Control Inc. to improve traffic flow in the downtown area. Harlan Police Chief Danny Caudill said the quote includes repaving, turn lanes, directional flows and additional parking spaces.
-- Approved a motion to sign and mail a Renaissance on Main Street grant application to the Governor's Office for Local Development in Frankfort.
-- Approved a request from the Harlan County Boys and Girls Club to name the street of the facility's new Fairview location Positive Place, from the club's motto: "The Positive Place for Kids." The club is the only address on the street, which begins at KY 38 and extends to River Street.
-- Approved a motion to publish the city's 2004 and 2005 delinquent property taxes.
-- Howard said the city will be more aggressively enforcing its skateboarding ordinance after receiving numerous complaints.
The next regular meeting of the Harlan City Council will be Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Harlan Center.