I received the following description from Commissioner Michele Madigan regarding the city’s computerized accounting system with a focus on payroll.
Members of the charter review commission have repeatedly asserted that the city’s payroll system is antiquated. In fact, some members of the commission have even claimed that it is still done with pencils on paper. Most recently, one of the commission’s members asserted in a post on this site that “the city payroll system is antiquated… at least 500k can be saved by implementing a modern payroll process.”
To an unsophisticated person like myself, their statements would make me believe that the city not only has no automated payroll functions but has no plans to address the lack of such accounting tools.
As someone who is a computer programmer and has worked on deployments involving payroll and time recording I can assure the readers of this blog that it is far, far more complex than one would assume.
I would like to invite any members of the Charter Review Commission to submit a guest post to respond to Commissioner Madigan’s description of how payroll is done currently in the city. It would be helpful if their response were as specific and detailed as possible explaining what is antiquated about the current system and what system they have in mind that would save the city at least $500,000.
According to Section 4.3.1 of the current City Charter: “Accounting Systems: The Commissioner of Finance shall maintain and supervise the general accounting system for the City government and each of its offices, departments and entities in accordance with the uniform system of accounts prescribed by the State Comptroller…” As a result: The City of Saratoga Springs utilizes one of the most sophisticated financial management and accounting systems available on the market today – MUNIS – from Tyler Technologies has expertise in Financials, Revenue, Payroll & HR, Citizen Services, and Human Capital Management.
We are not antiquated, far from it; we have integrated MUNIS software modules into a structured departmental system that centralizes in the City Finance Office. We utilize state of the art technology to streamline all the various nuances of our 7 separate Union Contracts and our Non-Union Employee Contract – ensuring compliance within those individual contracts along with various Finance Policies and Procedures (as required under the current Charter and Commission Government Section 4.2.1 Finance Policy and Procedures Manual). The City utilizes MUNIS Payroll functionality to manage Contract Improvements, Step and Longevity Increases, Accrual allotment and charges, and Employee Deductions (Health Insurance, Deferred Compensation, NYS Retirement Contributions, etc). At the same time we are interfacing Payroll Cost Accounting into our General Ledger every time we post a payroll. In addition the City uses MUNIS modules for Online Tax and Utility Billing, Tax Collections, Accounts Payable, Building Permits and Purchasing. It’s a sophisticated system.
Additionally, the Finance Department is in the process of implementing a Time and Attendance system module. Roll-out of the system has occurred in DPW and within our Police Department. This project will take approximately 2 years from start to finish and included a detailed review by committee with representation from each department.
System implementations are expensive and take time. We have invested years in our state-of-the-art MUNIS system. I’ve grown tired of the misinformation being peddled by members of the Charter Review Commission. Vote yes or no to change the form of government, but please let’s have an honest assessment of this proposal and the costs associated with this new hybrid form of government (City Manager w/ a Strong Mayor).
Commissioner Michele Madigan