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Jackson to spend $8.7M in Siemens settlement funds to update billing software

Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi(WLBT)
Updated: Dec. 22, 2020 at 3:41 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson’s water billing software is out of date, and the council is spending nearly $8.7 million in Siemens settlement funds to update it.

At its meeting Tuesday, the council approve extended its contract with Mythics, Inc., and its sub-consultant, BOSS, to purchase and install the new software.

The work will take 12 months to complete and include replacing the city’s Customer Care and Billing Software (CC&B) version 2.5 with CC&B version 2.7.

The software licensing will cost $1,657,282, while the installation will cost around $7 million, according to city documents.

The updates are needed because the current software is at the end of its life, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said at the meeting.

“Even if we didn’t have the challenges we have, we would have to replace the billing system,” because. “No updates to the software, so we have to be transitioning to (the new) software.”

Lumumba was referring to the challenges that stemmed from the city’s $90 million “energy performance contract” with Siemens Industry, Inc.

Jackson brought on the firm in 2012/2013 to completely overhaul its water metering and billing system.

Work included replacing some 65,000 water meters across the city and installing new software in the water/sewer billing office.

Siemens wrapped up the work in 2015. Since then, complications have ensued. Citing those complications, Jackson sued the firm in 2019. Earlier this year, the city settled the case out of court for nearly $90 million.

A portion of the Siemens funds is being used to fund the Mythics extension.

Other settlement monies went toward reimbursing the general fund for loans made to the water enterprise fund and toward rebuilding the city’s reserve fund to bring Jackson into compliance with its water/sewer bond covenants. Other monies still have been earmarked for additional water and sewer work.

Prior to the settlement, the city had already spent millions to correct problems associated with the Siemens contract.

In the spring of 2019, for instance, the city awarded Mythics a nearly $7 million contract to move its billing system onto cloud-based servers. Prior to that move, the system was located on terrestrial servers, which were constantly crashing, city officials said at the time.

That project, dubbed a “lift, shift and enhance,” was completed that December.

This December, upon the recommendation of the PREO GROUP, LLC, a city consultant, the council approved extending the Mythics contract to allow them to install the new billing software.

PREO recommended Mythics, in part, because the group is “intimately familiar” with the city’s billing system and because it is the only “Oracle-authorized vendor” that can complete the upgrade in the next 12 months, city documents state.

The CC&B system is an Oracle-based software.

PREO said had the contract not been extended, the work would have to be competitively bid, something that would delay the installation of the new software by at least seven months.

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