Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer
The complete madness known as the “Enterprise Resource Planning” (ERP) software of the Montgomery County government must come to an end right now. It’s again on the agenda for the Tuesday, August 28, 2018, Commissioners Court. Since this Commissioners Court feels obligated to spend money rather than saving the taxpayers’ burden, okay, then let’s spend it…on the right things, not the wrong things.
The Montgomery County government isn’t a for-profit business. It doesn’t need ERP software. The ERP’s two main advocates – disgraced County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport and terribly-reviewed County Auditor Phyllis Martin – have admitted that the ERP has no benefit. Davenport couldn’t identify any benefit during a January, 2018, candidate forum when she had the opportunity to answer a direct question on that issue. Martin admitted that the ERP won’t save any tax dollars on providing reductions in County employees. Those are the precise reasons that private companies utilize ERP software.
Instead, what the Montgomery County government needs – and it needs it right now – is a current version of a good accounting program, such as the highest and most advanced version of Quickbooks. The Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office already has six (6) licenses for that version of Quickbooks that costs the taxpayers a total of $2,500 per year. For $200,000 per year, Montgomery County’s government could purchase about 500 licenses to cover all 80 County Departments.
Problem solved and we just saved 15 to 20 MILLION dollars.
The County government already set aside $7,312,058 for the crazed ERP ambitions of the Davenport Ring’s Stephanne Davenport and Phyllis Martin. (Of course, the Davenport Ring’s spokeslady from East Montgomery County, who recently got out of federal prison and lost her CPA license right before her federal felony conviction, also supports the ERP.)
At the same time, the County Auditor’s Budget is obviously way too high. Martin’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget is $2,260,554. Her budget request for Fiscal Year 2019 was actually higher, even though she is no longer the budget officer and the budget functions transferred from the County Auditor’s Department. Additionally, the independent accounting firm of Postlethwaite & Netterville identified in their External Assessment of the County Auditor’s Office that Martin actually only has 5 people, besides herself, who perform audit functions in her 26 person department. Martin has built a bureaucracy to support her power ambitions.
There’s the solution for the $200,000 per year to fund the purchase of Quickbooks for the County’s immediate financial accounting needs. Let’s throw in $100,000 of transition expenses as well, but reduce Martin’s County Auditor’s Department Budget by at least the $300,000 that Precinct 3 County Commissioner Noack and County Judge Craig Doyal promised they’d reduce that budget, when they initially made the promise on September 5, 2017.
So what should we do with the money we’ve saved for the ERP?
It’s obvious. The Sheriff requested 23 positions, including 12 patrol officers, in his very frugal budget request. He had reduced his operational budget by $444,738 in the FY 2019 Budget request, but he also asked for the additional manpower which would cost $2,473,497.83. Most of the workload needs for patrol officers come from East Montgomery County where Sheriff Rand Henderson has made clear he will mostly deploy those officers and their support personnel. The Commissioners Court only gave the Sheriff two positions, a crime scene investigator and an evidence technician. The Commissioners Court should chop the ERP out of the spending plans and give Sheriff Henderson and his team all of the officers and personnel he requested in his Fiscal Year 2019 Budget request. (Part of that funding will come from other sources beside the ERP savings.)
Let’s also take $100,000 of the saved funds and buy the Animal Shelter those air-conditioned cages for the Animal Control trucks (and direct embattled Animal Shelter Director Aaron Johnson to figure out a way to make that $100,000 work to air-condition all of the existing cages on those trucks).
End the ERP. Use advanced Quickbooks. Give the Sheriff’s Office the money they requested for patrol officers. Solve the A/C problem for the Animal Control trucks right now.