12/05/13 — County to pay back wages

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County to pay back wages

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 5, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners Tuesday authorized the payment of just under $12,000 to approximately 65 county employees who were underpaid by the county.

The payment was not part of the board's published agenda, but instead emerged following a 45-minute closed session called to preserve attorney-client privilege.

County Manager Lee Smith said the closed session had been called since the discussion involved specific employees and not the general payroll system.

Between July and December 2012, the county used a new payroll system that either underpaid or overpaid most of the county's employees. The county has since returned to its old system.

Nunn Brashear & Co. was hired by commissioners earlier this year to prepare an audit on the payroll issues.

According to the report, which was presented at the board's July 16 session, countywide underpayments totaled $12,340.89 and overpayments $502,990.68.

Approximately 65 county employees were underpaid and approximately 600 were overpaid, the auditors said.

Tuesday's vote to make the payments came late in the meeting and without any prior discussion by commissioners.

Commissioner Joe Daughtery's motion to make the payments in the January payroll was unanimously approved.

"This motion comes from the closed session that we had today," Commissioner Steve Keen said. "I am very happy to say that I am glad that we are moving forward today and getting payroll issues taken care of. It is something that this board inherited from the previous board."

Smith said that some underpaid employees had already been paid and that the ones approved Tuesday were the remaining underpayments that had now been confirmed.

"My office is determining the final amount," he said. "It involves various departments. The funds are fairly insignificant to total payroll and will come out of regular salary line items. It will be paid in the January 2014 payroll. It is various amounts, but most are under $200."

The payment is only salary and applicable taxes, he said.

"The underpayments were a combination of timesheet errors and internal calculations or hours worked," Smith said.

Smith was asked if payroll issues have continued after the county returned to its old system.

"We have had what I consider normal payroll errors due to human error, timesheet mistakes, leave calculations, etc. that are to be expected with a manual system," he said.

Commissioners have yet to reach a decision on how to handle salary overpayments.

"I do not have a specific answer but to state that the county's first endeavor is to ensure that people are paid properly and the county will continue to examine options of overpayments in the future," Smith said.