Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cost of $58,000 to do county payroll as ever – Why?

Waco – The headline blazed out of the page of the local daily paper - “McLennan County to pay $58,000 to keep current payroll system.”

No one bothered to ask why.

Maybe there is no reason.

The story as it came out of Tuesday's Commissioners' Court meeting was straight forward enough, save the omission of that one element.

Why would it cost taxpayers such a sum to continue to figure and pay employees over 24 yearly pay periods by check, on the first and 16th, exactly as the task has been done during the past 10 years?

The Court had opted to start a 26-week system on a motion by Commissioner Lester Gibson in May. The plan, to pay a software engineering firm to change the way things are done, was in process when Mr. Gibson learned that his lower-paid employees will actually receive smaller checks under the new system, though they will still be paid the same yearly salaries.

The new system would have gone into effect in the fall.

So, he moved to remain on the current 24-week system.

According to County Information Technology Director Robert Wasson, the move will now cost McLennan County as much as $33,500 for a 28 day task requiring travel and lodging of the contractor's staff, $7,500 for their lodging at local motels, and $17,000 for hardware support to change the system back to the method that is in place at the present.

All this because an employee making about $26,000 a year would have received in the neighborhood of $85 less each pay period.

Say what?

Yeah. The total budget for the new software program is $476,585. The total is said to include “some cushion” for incidental expenses that could be added to the $58,000 price tag for continuing to do things they way they have been done.

What's wrong with that?

Well, for one thing, overtime is paid without the time cards being actually turned in for audit.


Imagine that. Commissioners Kelly Snell and Joe Mashek, both up for re-election, objected and voted against the motion. County Judge Jim Lewis, Commissioner Ben Perry and Lester Gibson voted to go back to the old way.


  1. Subject: Payroll Vote McLennan County

    Last month the Commissioners voted to go with a different software company for payroll and voted to change the payroll system from the current 24 paycheck a year system to a new 26 paycheck a year system where the employees would get paid every other Friday (14 day pay cycle). Under the old system (24), the employees were paid on the 16th and last day of the month. If the 16th was on a weekend, they were paid on the following Monday. If the last day of the month was on a weekend, they were paid on that Friday. Under that system, the employees were paid twice a month with a span between paychecks from 14 days to around 19 days between pay periods depending on holidays. The Commissioners paid $50,000.00 for the system and started the process to implement the new 26 payroll system.

    Mike Garrett and the SLEAMC group ran a propaganda program trying to convince the employees that they would would receive smaller amounts of money and they would make smaller yearly salaries for the calendar year. The Commisioners had already spent the $50,000.00 of tax money to start the system. The Commissioners re-voted again and decided to change the system back to the old system, even though they have already spent the 50K and are going to have to spend more money for the new software company to reprogram the new system to use the old system.

    The employees never had an internal vote about the system one or the other. McLennan County is not civil service and has a of 245,000 population.


    1. After the Commissioners voted to change the payroll system to the 26 paycheck a year system, do they have to wait one year before they can vote on it again?

    2. Is there any requirement for the Commissioners to have a vote from the employees before changing the system from the 24 to the 26 system?

    Ken Witt


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