On Your Side: News 4 gets clarification on Reno payroll question

Reported by: Joe Hart
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Updated: 11/01/2013 12:43 am
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) - We have an update tonight to our On Your Side report we brought you last night about increased costs for the city of Reno's new payroll system.  The added costs amount to $172,000.   But the question is are we getting straight answers from the city about this project ?  Budget manager Kate Thomas who oversees the new payroll system told us during an interview Wednesday October 30th focusing on the added costs to implement the system that the city council was well aware of the changes, giving the impression no one on the council objected.

Here's the question and her response:

News 4: "How do you expect the council to react to this news ?"
Thomas:  "They've known the process has been in place for a while now.  Changes are indicative with a project like this.  We've been keeping them abreast of the process so they shouldn't be suprised."

But several city council members told us they knew nothing about the added costs for the payroll project until we told them.

We talked to Thomas Wednesday morning, then Wednesday afternoon a memo was sent to the mayor and council members telling them News 4 had been asking about the additional costs for the payroll system and spelling out in that memo what those costs will be.

So was Thomas being honest with us when she told us the council already knew those details? She declined to do a follow up on camera interview to explain. Instead she sent us this statement saying quote:  "I answered that question in the broader context of council being up to speed on the implementation and the various issues we have had during that process.  The details surrounding the forthcoming change requests have not yet been presented to council as we are still working on that staff report."

Thomas insists the automated payroll project is still a good investment for the city, one that will pay for itself in time. Even with the new price tag of 1.5 million dollars.  "We're hoping in the next couple of years it's paid for itself.  We're hoping to get a lot of unexpected benefits from the system," Thomas said.

How the system will pay for itself remains unclear.  The city has not been able to provide any hard numbers about cost savings at this point.  The council will have to vote on the cost increase, which is again $172,000.   That is expected to happen sometime in November.  It's a lot of money, and we will continue working to get answers for you about how this new program is paying off.
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