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New tech request on Orange warrant

ORANGE — A wing and a prayer seem to be all that keep the town’s computer systems from crashing these days.

Town Administrator Diana Schindler told selectmen at their meeting last week that she is requesting up to $12,000 for a new server and $20,000 for new accounting software. The requests will be on the warrant for the upcoming special town meeting.

Earlier this year, Schindler brought in a team of IT professionals after town computers were hacked for the second time in a year. Police Chief Robert Haigh told her the system needed to be secured or shut down.

While the town’s computer system is more secure with a new firewall and antivirus software, Schindler said the server and accounting software are barely functional.

“We don’t have a lot of time” before the server crashes, she told selectmen. “It is complete dinosaur and archaic and needs to go.” She said she is also exploring cloud computing, a newer system in which information is stored not on a local server but at a remote location.

Schindler is also looking into accounting software packages that would increase efficiency of the financial team. The software package they currently use is so outdated the new accountant has had trouble finding training resources so that she can learn the system.

One of the two software packages Schindler is researching is also used by the regional and elementary schools.

Finance Committee member Bob Anderson urged Schindler to purchase the school’s system as that would increase efficiency of communication and accounting processes. Anderson has long argued for a secure, integrated
information system throughout town departments, including the schools.

A system with a shared data base would allow school personnel to share financial documents in seconds with Town Hall staff, eliminating time-consuming duplication of accounting entries, performed manually, after paperwork such as purchase orders and time sheets are hand-carried across town.

The request for new technology will be voted on at the special town meeting on May 23 at 7 p.m.

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