With a population of over 150,000, the City of Burlington has experienced a rapid growth for many years. Many city departments use CSDC’s AMANDA software to provide everyday services to the citizens such as building permits, development applications, request for services, business and lottery licenses as well as property taxation.
Finding a solution that has more functionality and requires less support from the IT department. The solution had to also be Y2K complient, fast and flexible.
AMANDA met all of Burlington’s requirements and more. CSDC and Burlington worked together to meet the requirements and comply with new legislation. More recently, Burlington has been able to develop a double-sided Final Tax Bill layout using AMANDA, reducing the amount of paper required for tax bills. Burlington has been able to comply with all legislative changes and meet their regular tax installment due dates.
Burlington implemented AMANDA as a corporate property solution across many departments. It started with a multi departmental Property Information Request folder and then moved quickly to implement building permits and licensing, followed by applications in the Planning Department.
The earlier system Burlington used wasn’t integrated with the other systems, hampering efforts to keep 50,000 properties on the tax rolls up to date. That system lost the department’s confidence as its Y2K compatibility was uncertain; the system was simply outdated.
The City needed software which gave the Finance Department the ability to make changes. The old software required significant IT support to print reports and make minor changes. The main objective was to use software that had more functionality and required less IT support.
In 1997, the City of Burlington chose the fast, flexible, property-based billing and collection system, AMANDA Tax. This new system could be configured to meet Burlington’s needs without any customizations. This meant that tax staff with sufficient skills could change business rules and generate ad-hoc reports on their own.
The City of Burlington’s team used their existing property database within AMANDA to match the assessment information provided by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). One big reason Burlington chose AMANDA was because it standardized all property and people information on a single platform. This results in a reliable citywide database for use by all departments.
Joan Ford, Manager of Financial Planning & Taxation with the city, explains that each department has a role to play in updating property information.
“Our Engineering and Planning Departments create new Property records, IT loads assessment information to create new tax accounts, and tax staff update ownership records.”
Joan Ford, Manager of Financial Planning & Taxation
Putting the Finance Department on the same platform enabled the City to keep its records up to date and eliminate duplicate entries. It also gave them a 360-degree view of their customer, from a property-people and tax-related perspective.
Burlington has taken this a step further by electronically sending MPAC (Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation) their building permit activity, which allows MPAC to assess new buildings in a more timely fashion. By receiving up-to-date MPAC assessment values in AMANDA, Burlington maximizes the revenue potential of its property tax base.
Burlington uses AMANDA to handle the many methods of receiving tax payments. One is a pre-authorized payments plan, a third pre-authorized payment option for owners who prefer to pay a certain standard amount every month of the year. AMANDA assists with logging properties that have been taxed, displays how much taxed is levied, the date, and method of payment.
Burlington also uses AMANDA to manage multiple service areas with differing geographic boundaries, applying different tax rates to these special areas.
One beneficial feature of AMANDA is that it is configurable. That makes it possible for staff to make any changes that are required as a result of new legislation. In 2001, the Ontario Provincial Government legislated a new standardized tax bill form and content. The City of Burlington needed to change the structure and design of the tax bill and introduce the required new schedules. CSDC and Burlington worked together to meet the requirements and comply with the new legislation. More recently, Burlington has been able to develop a double-sided Final Tax Bill layout using AMANDA, reducing the amount of paper required for tax bills.
AMANDA has many different security settings, which is important to Burlington’s Finance Department. Administrators set up limitations and permissions so that information stays private and confidential. In Burlington, for example, tax customer service clerks query, create and update fields, but do not have permission to run billing batches. Currently, only the Finance Department has access to the AMANDA Tax records.
As business practices change and the City grows over time, AMANDA’s architecture too will evolve to meet new business needs, organization structures, or legislative changes.