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Council rejects $1M BWP request

Connie Baker

Despite pleas from Burbank Water and Power officials, the City

Council on Tuesday denied a request for $1 million in additional

funding to teach employees how to implement a new customer

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information and billing system.

Instead, the council told BWP General Manager Ron Davis to

renegotiate a $3.5-million contract with Indus Utility Systems Inc.,

the firm hired to upgrade the utility’s aging billing system.

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The firm is working with BWP employees to implement a new system,

but Davis told the council that staffers “lack expertise” in

information technology and project management and require additional

support services not included in the city’s existing contract.

To date, nearly half of the $4,678,300 budgeted for the project

has been spent, and to put the project on hold would be less

cost-effective, officials said.

“We need to get talented people on staff and sufficient

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information technology people in now,” Joanne Fletcher, BWP customer

services manager, told the council.

Indus proposed charging $2 million for setting up and managing a

data center, systems administration, conversion and operations.

BWP staff, however, recommended paying $1 million to have Indus

serve in specific areas for a limited time until the utility’s

information technology staff grew more capable.

The council wasn’t buying it.

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“I’m supportive of your methodology in this very challenging

project,” Councilman Dave Golonski said. “But I find these rates just

too high. It’s not even close to acceptable.”

BWP’s existing customer information system, which serves 50,000

customers a month, is 30 years old and needs to be updated as soon as

possible, Fletcher said.

“Please understand this is not a silver bullet,” Davis told the

council. “We may be asking for a million now, and if you turn it

down, we may come back for [$2 million].”


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