By Katta Hules
The city council approved an update to the cross-department software Laserfiche this week. The software update, which is budgeted to cost $33,785, is essential to the digitalization of city records. “Normally we’d ask for this additional funding during the normal budgeting cycle,” City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto said, “but the software is limping into obsolescence and we’ve had a lot of issues with it that have necessitated the request to purchase this item now, in the middle of the budget cycle.”
The city has been using Laserfiche Classic document management software since 2006 to store, share and retrieve digital images of existing paper records. According to the Staff Report on the subject, “Using Laserfiche scanning and indexing technology has allowed the City to maintain consistency in image indexing procedures, maintain interdepartmental electronic access and file sharing capabilities, expedite the completion of conversion projects, and ensure adequate storage and access to public documents in accordance with the City’s document retention schedules and the California Public Records Act.” However, the system has not been updated since its installation.
Due to this lack of update, the system has been experiencing slow performance and glitches including kicking users out, hindering access and an inability to automate certain forms, according to the Staff Report. The update will improve the server, search options, coding, smooth workflow of certain operations and allow automation of e-forms among other benefits.
Lazzaretto said although the request came from the city clerk’s office, the software update affects all the city departments because “every department has some form of digital imaging needs.” The clerk’s office, in its record keeping capacity, utilizes the software the most, especially for its project to digitalize the city’s old documentation, currently kept in the basement. “All the paper that we used to put in file cabinets underneath the building is a 110 years old,” said Lazzaretto. “Laserfiche allows us to scan those documents, have them in perpetuity, have backups to them, the public can access it at any time, we can access it at any time.”
Mayor Tom Beck asked how long the upgrade was likely to last.
“We like to get five to seven years out of a piece of software like this. There is an annual maintenance that will help ensure that it doesn’t get obsolete but as I mentioned earlier, we got 10 years out of the first one,” Lazzaretto answered, adding that the maintenance fee was “slightly higher” than last time but has already been budgeted for.
Mayor Pro-Tem Amundson asked if the city would need additional staff to help scan the old records.
Lazzaretto answered that the consulting staff who update the data already in place is budgeted for, including installation and training for the Fire Department which does not currently have Laserfiche. Additionally, the software “(allows) our existing clerical staff to do the scanning and the indexing and all those things. It automates all of that.”
Amundson asked if the files in the basement were already in the system. “For the most part,” Lazzaretto replied, “If you look on our website, there are really good records for the last 20 years, there’s pretty good records before that for another 10 or 15 years and then as they have time available, they keep scanning and building things into the system. Hopefully, it will be a foolproof system eventually (and) any paper we have in long term storage will be in there but as available, we finish up the projects.”
The Laserfiche update was approved unanimously. Lazzaretto said the update will “provide new capabilities that will further streamline things and make things easier on all departments.”
In addition, the council honored Brian Mejia for 20 years of service in Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s office and Arcadia High School students Michelle Deng and Lauren Ko for winning the CIF-SS Tennis Doubles Championship.
During his council report, Amundson urged holiday drivers to slow down and find another ride home if they feel intoxicated, citing the recent increase in vehicular fatalities. Both he and Councilmember Chandler suggested those who donate for the holidays consider giving to the police K9 unit for the upkeep of its dog, Zoli.
The meeting was adjourned in memory of Garry Myrdahl, co-owner of Hair Etc., former Arcadia resident and youth coach who recently passed away from bone cancer. “You never know in life,” said Beck, who knew Myrdahl. “You should live every day to its fullest.”
The city council will meet again on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.