As Albemarle County’s population continues to rise, officials are searching for ways to make government operations more efficient.
“One of the really important items in our budget [discussions] was this notion of transformation to realign the organization to achieve cost savings,” said Deputy County Executive Bill Letteri.
Letteri and other county staff updated supervisors Wednesday on the county’s digital record system, the transition to a computer-based timekeeping system and progress toward a new county website.
The board also was told how the county is moving its housing assistance programs from the Office of Housing to the Department of Social Services.
“By the fall, we should be ready to move to full integration,” said John Freeman, assistant director of the social services department.
The move will involve five workers moving to a department that currently has 117 employees.
The county has entered into a contract with the firm Civica to redesign the Albemarle website at a one-time cost of $45,620 and a monthly fee of $1,570 after the site launches.
“The website we all know and love today is kind of bloated and clunky and hard to navigate,” said Jody Saunders, a county spokeswoman. “The new website we envision aims to address all of those things.”
Civica, which is based in the United Kingdom, has designed websites for other municipalities, including Carlsbad, California.
“Playing with the Carlsbad website is fun,” said Supervisor Ann H. Mallek. “And it’s super fast because it’s not taking you all over the place.”
Saunders said information will be easier to find on the new site.
“The website will seek to provide users with information that they come to look for in a way that they want to look for it,” she said. “[Civica specializes] in local governments and efficiency and transparency.”
The goal is to have the new site in place by November.
Albemarle has entered into a $575,574 contract with Kronos Inc. for a system that will keep track of time spent on the job by county government and school division employees, as well as their vacation and sick leave.
“Many of those things are going on right now, but they are handled through paper processes and there is a lot of duplication of effort,” said Melissa Anderson, the manager in charge of the project.
Anderson said the goal is to reduce administrative burdens, reduce inaccuracies and demonstrate compliance with federal and state regulations.
“It’s also meant to empower managers and leaders with data that they don’t have easy access to now, to be able to make decisions around things like overtime,” Anderson said.
Anderson said that could reduce overtime costs by 10 percent.
The timekeeping system is currently in the design phase. Anderson said the goal is have the system in place by July 1, 2018, the beginning of the next county fiscal year.
Michael Culp, Albemarle’s information technology director, said the county is expanding the use of a Laserfiche to cover more county documents.
“It takes paper and transforms it into the digital domain, and then we’re able to look up information very quickly,” Culp said. “Our objectives are to reduce our costs. Record storage expenses are really growing because we produce so many records now.”
Albemarle’s human resources department is now shifting to using the system for personnel records, and Culp said the school division is also in the process of digitizing student records.
Minutes of the Board of Supervisors meeting are available on the system dating back to 1921.
Removing filing cabinets also allows the county to recover physical space that can be used for other purposes.
“We’re just hoping that our security is keeping up with all of the changes,” said Supervisor Liz Palmer.
Mallek said she thinks the changes will go a long way to preparing for an aging workforce.
“One of my bigger fears going forward is the number of retirements we’re facing, so the fact that you’re planning ahead gives us a nimble possibility to not be in crisis,” she said.
More changes are on the way.
“There are other initiatives that have been identified that we’re eager to get to,” said Doug Walker, the interim county executive. “We’re just trying to be thoughtful about how much we can take on at any one time.”