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Friedman updates city’s progress in advancing technology

Published: Thursday, June 19, 2014 10:21 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2014 10:43 a.m. CDT

Newton Director of Finance and Development Bryan Friedman gave an update Monday on the City Action Plan Goal D by highlighting some of the achievements made in the progress of the city’s goal to develop advancing technologies.

“I’m excited to report that much progress has been made on the technology front,” Friedman said.

The city is currently switching to a new financial software package.

“We will be entering into an era where we have a tool that will be much more powerful to help monitor, analyze and track all of the financial data while projecting trends,” Friedman said. “It will give us up-to-the-minute real time data to be able to deal with vendors and answer questions while working through our financial processes.”

Friedman also highlighted the Newton Public Library’s role in advancing the technology for the city by having a focused effort to give patrons an around-the-clock customer service.

“They have added online modules for training and access to magazines,” Friedman said. “The library has added online renewals and email notices prior to books being overdue. You can sign up, and they will have that technology to send you notices.”

Friedman also said the city and library still have in the action plan the goal of increasing the bandwidth at the library for its Internet access.

Friedman then highlighted the already implemented improvement of video capabilities for the council meetings, which allows views options like replay and play on demand.

“In the upcoming budget year and the year beyond that, we have upgrades planned for audio within the city chambers,” Friedman said.

Council member Noreen Otto commented on the efforts of Friedman and multiple city departments in this effort.

“I think you hit the nail on the head when you said you were really playing catch up for a little bit,” Otto said. “These are easy things to put off and to just expect your staff to do without. I am glad we have some new financial software because it’s a really critical part of what the city does with the taxpayers’ money that we’re working with. I appreciate the staff really being able to tackle it with new software, which I know isn’t always an easy project.”

Otto also said she hopes the city continues to do things to make not only the staff’s job easier but also make what the council does more accessible and clear to the public.

Staff writer Zach Johnson may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at zjohnson@newtondailynews.com.

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