County to discuss payroll
By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 7, 2012 1:50 AM
Wayne County commissioners will meet Monday in special session to discuss continuing payroll problems with the county's Office of Emergency Services.
The session will be held in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex beginning at 1:30 p.m.
It is the only item on the agenda.
Wayne County Emergency Medical Services employees have appeared before commissioners twice within two weeks to complain about the new payroll system, which has overpaid some and underpaid other EMS workers.
The problem is so grave it is affecting customer service, public safety, other departments and citizens, as well as outside funding and grants, EMS workers said at the commission's meeting last Tuesday.
Speaking for a group of some 30 fellow EMS employees, Donna Santifort submitted a two-page statement with 15 points concerning the new payroll system. She first spoke on the issue at the board's Sept. 18 session.
Commission Chairman John Bell countered that someone other than EMS employees is fueling the continuing uproar.
"The thing that bothers me, I have had a lot of calls since the last meeting," Bell said last week. "We have people in this county who are driving this train unnecessarily."
Commissioner Steve Keen asked Bell whom he was talking about.
"At the appropriate time, I will tell you,"" Bell said. "But now is not the appropriate time, but you have people who are trying to create a mountain out of a mole hill.
"Don't get me wrong now, payroll is a mountain, anytime you are not getting paid you have a mountain. But we don't need people, especially people on this board to interject themselves into the payroll system, and not know how to give the proper answers to the people they are talking with."
Bell unsuccessfully argued that County Manager Lee Smith needed time to work through the questions raised by Ms. Santifort. Commissioners, he said, lack the knowledge to speak with any authority on the subject.
Keen disagreed and said he had the information he needed, and that he knew what he was talking about.
He went on to make a motion to hold a work session on the payroll system with Smith and his staff.
The motion passed 6-1. Bell voted no. Commissioner J.D. Evans did not vote and in accordance with board policy was counted as a yes.
Commissioner Sandra McCullen suggested that if the issue was so critical the board should have the workshop that afternoon.
Following a brief recess to consider dates, the board returned to regular session. Bell then told commissioners they would be notified as to when the meeting would be held.