Econ 101 with Auditor Kimsey

In a recent edition of the Clark County employee newsletter, it was mentioned that the county was going to stop printing paycheck slips.

“This move is expected to save about $45,000 per year in supply costs and staff time, as departments will no longer need to pick up and distribute paychecks and paycheck reports.”

Employees not signed up for direct deposit will have their paychecks mailed home; employees can always check their pay and benefits information online.

Wow. $45,000? Really? I emailed the idea to Brandon Zarzana, controller for The Columbian. How much could The Columbian save if it stopped printing paycheck slips? The envelope containing a payslip that gets dropped on my desk every two weeks just goes into the “need to shred” pile at home, as I’ve had direct deposit for years.

Brandon questioned the county’s figure. The Columbian would potentially save approximately $7 per employee a year if it stopped printing payslips, he said. Proportionally, the county was projecting a per-employee savings of more than three times that amount.

I asked Auditor Greg Kimsey to explain the $45,000 figure.

“It is a common mistake in government to talk about ‘reducing expenses, or savings’ when labor hours are no longer allocated to a specific task,” he said.

In reality, the labor hours are simply allocated to another task. At this point, Kimsey acknowledged he sounded like an Economics 101 professor.

He said his department tried to be clear with the county’s public information office, which produces the employee newsletter, that the staff time was valued at $40,000 a year. Supplies were valued at $5,000, which was comparable to The Columbian’s potential savings of $1,700 on a per-employee basis.

“This change is not reducing the county’s labor expense by $40,000,” he said. “It just means that the people who were walking to the Auditor’s Office once every two weeks to pick up deposit notices and then delivering those to people in their department will now have that time to do other stuff.”

Class dismissed.

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