By Bev Bales, Carlos, MN

Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is being spent. When there are requests for such and no one wants to give you the information it makes one wonder, “What are they hiding/ashamed of?”

For months several of us, I, along with other senior citizens, business owners and others in the public, have tried to find out the cost of the Kronos time clock system the Douglas County commissioners put in place a couple years ago. Emails/phone calls/ or in person, none of the commissioners will give the information. The auditor/treasurer did give us one figure of some costs $122,984 of Kronos so far, plus $4,800 monthly fee, in addition to HR maintenance and support for $278 a month, and the IT department did give us info on tablets handled by their department.

With a great deal of research, this is what was found. The Kronos system was put in place by the commissioners to simplify payroll, however, it has been over two years and yet both systems are still being used for payroll, costing the county $351 monthly, in addition to what Kronos charges. Payroll department says the cost is $1,610.95 a month. County Board Chair Meyer on Open Line said it was $1.58 per employee per month, which equals $504.02, quite a difference.

Next, we need to add the salaries and benefits of more employees the county hired to do the payroll, which was done previously with fewer employees.

Then we have all the tablets purchased (one department alone cost us $5,000). The total number of tablets purchased is changeable. They all cost a monthly fee and, of course, replacement and repairs are additional expenses.

There is lots of duplication, i.e., law enforcement is required to “check in” as always, but now need to “check in”for Kronos. Really necessary?

All of this “tracking” micromanaging the County Board is very difficult to accept, if in no other way, the exorbitant costs to taxpayers.

There is no way of determining all the cost of all the staff time in training everyone, plus ongoing time spent submitting requests, waiting for approval, answering requests, etc. One department alone says it’s costing at least $1,000 a month of their time.

It seems very important to see where something is working, unless you’re positive it is right, but with 87 counties in the state, only eight use Kronos. Another tried it, but took it out. In none of those eight counties is it being used in public works.

When taxpayers want information of where their money goes, it’s amazing one has to do your own work to get the numbers. It appears it isn’t far fetched to say this is costing Douglas County taxpayers a quarter of a million dollars. Where was the cost/benefit analysis to make the case for this over-priced system? Has this been a savings to the taxpayers or an unnecessary money pit we keep throwing more and more dollars into? Has it made county employees more productive or taken time away from their primary duties and made them less productive? We should be demanding accountability from the County Board members who continue to funnel taxpayer dollars into it.

Too bad Douglas County didn’t stay with all the counties we were with previously, as this is certainly costing those counties a whole lot less.

P.S. Note the two new County Board members did not vote on the Kronos system.