LAYTON -- City officials are taking the potential Y2K computer problems very seriously and are using a five-step program to ensure essential city services continue to operate smoothly on Jan. 1, 2000, and thereafter.

"We'll focus on the essential items," Assistant City Manager Jim Mason said. "The city has a Y2K committee. We meet on a regular basis."He said the city wants to be sure its water, sewer, police and fire services aren't interrupted. It's been working on this program since last year.

The lack of a century value -- having only a two-digit year identification system, instead of four -- in many computers is the heart of the problem world-wide.

The first step of the program involves an awareness of potential problems. Mason believes approximately 90 percent of city residents are already aware of the problem, thanks to media exposure.

The next step is an inventory of possible city problems and the third step is an assessment of such potential glitches. Mason would like the inventory completed by Feb. 28 and the assessment made by April 30. Mason said many department managers are already working on the assessment phase.

The fourth step is a fix-it/test-it goal by Aug. 31, and the final step is contingency planning by Sept. 30.

If electrical power or natural gas service were to be interrupted, that's where the contingency planning for the city is vital, according to Mason.

He's urged city employees to fix as many problems as possible now when they find them, instead of waiting until the end of the year.

"We really don't have a big problem with the computer system we have," Mason said.

That's because the city upgraded its main computer system last year, and it was built with the Y2K problems in mind.

The city also replaced its inadequate heating and air conditioning systems last spring. They, too, lack Y2K problems.

"A few things are not compliant, but none are critical," Mason said. "We're still looking."

One such failing is the water telemetry systems in city water reservoirs. However, Mason said that system can easily be overriden.

Another shortfall is the city's voice-mail telephone system. A new voice-mail system has now been ordered.

"I think there's a lot of doom and gloom around," Mason said. "There are some problems . . . I think we'll get over it."

Mason said a side benefit to all these Y2K preparations is that the city's essential and emergency services will be better prepared for any emergency.

"I'm really impressed with what has been done" Councilwoman Debra Ledkins said.