WALKER -- Cass County Board voted to terminate the county's contract with Carmody Data Systems Inc. of DeForest, Wis., effective July 1, 2005.
The contract was designed to transfer all environmental services permits onto an electronic system, to monitor electronically sewer installations and maintenance services, including where effluent pumped from systems was deposited.
Administrator Robert Yochum told the board the only Minnesota county where a contract with Carmody has worked well has been Washington County where a large number of individual property owners have Internet service and do submit reports directly via the Internet to Carmody on how often their sewers are pumped and what maintenance services are performed.
In reality, Cass' other contracts for software services enable the county to purchase the software over time and use county employees to make use of the software. The Carmody contract enables Carmody to retain software ownership forever, Yochum said.
Employee time has been used to provide data to Carmody, which Carmody initially claimed individual property owners would provide, according to Yochum.
Further, the firm has done little to implement electronic permitting and focused, instead, on record keeping for sewer systems, Deputy ESD Director John Sumption wrote in a letter to Carmody June 30, asking for improved services. Parts of the permitting system Carmody has developed do not work, he said.
The contract called for Carmody to receive $12 per permit the county issues, regardless of whether Carmody actually entered the data into the system. In fact, Sumption said, he found only about half of the approximately 2,000 permits ESD issued in 2003 got entered into the system.
"I am not going to be able to defend paying $20,000-plus per year when half of the information is not in the system," Sumption said in his letter to Carmody.
In a July 6 response, Scott Carmody, president of the firm, said it was his impression the contract called only for his firm to provide the program and customer support, but not to enter data into the system. Further, he believes his firm has provided everything the contract required. Any failing, he wrote, was the fault of Cass County to use the system as designed for the county.
Yochum told the board he will seek to reach a discounted early release from the contract. Should that fail, the county will continue to use Carmody through the contract term, which ends July 1, 2005.
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