Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Banks cash county paychecks before they are dated

Handing out checks in advance is not legal

Waco – Politics has influenced a reversal of a $6 million expenditure for new payroll computing equipment and software.

Area banks sometimes cash paychecks for McLennan County employees' paychecks in advance of the date inscribed on the check.

A check of area banks' records of postings of employee checks reveals dozens of persons have taken advantage of the fact that the County Treasurer's office hands out the checks in advance of the date on which the check is payable.

What's more, county employees are often paid for their work and overtime hours before the auditors have had a chance to check their time sheets.

That is a violation of the Texas Constitution, which prohibits a county government from lending its credit to an employee in advance of performing work. A list of employees who cashed their paychecks prior to the date inscribed upon them includes Sheriff Larry Lynch and his administrative assistant, Anna M. Reyes. Their paychecks were posted on October 28; their checks were dated October 31. Similarly, County Commissioner Lester Gibson's bank posted his paycheck in advance of the date upon which it was made out to be payable.

They are salaried employees, but hourly paid employees are often paid for work they have not yet performed, due to the structure of the payroll program.

“We have a duty to determine that the employee actually worked,” said County Auditor Stan Chambers. “The current system we have does not allow us to determine that a person actually worked.”

The payroll system was set to change to an automated bi-weekly schedule run by a new $6 million main frame computer on customized software that would divide the year into 26 equal pay periods.

All that was scrapped by the Commissioners' Court when law enforcement employees, including jailers, applied pressure to certain County Commissioners to scrap the new system – at an expense of $58,000, to reinstate a maintenance program on the old payroll system.

"This whole payroll system has to be corrected," said County Commissioner Kelly Snell. "We have a lot of taxpayers' money at stake."

“I went out to the jail one day and tried to explain the new system," said Mr. Chambers. “Despite my attempt to alleviate their fears,” “the law enforcement officers and jailers believed they would be shorted.”

The software system, which was input by technicians from Tyler Technologies, was set up, but then had to be scrapped as a result because the law enforcement officers and corrections officers said they would refuse to support the re-election of members of the Commissioenrs' Court if they did not vote to reverse their original plan.

That forced a return to People Soft, which had been customized to conform to a system that pays on two monthly pay periods, one from the last business day of the previous month to the 15th, and the other from the 16th to end of the month.

The result is a confusing hodge podge of pay periods in which it is necessary to issue paychecks for days which have not as yet been worked. Employees who have vacation or personal leave time on the books are able to make up over payments that way. Those who do not are docked for the over payments. When the auditors catch a situation where a person has left the employment of the county, they seek and get a judgement in court – something that is expensive and not always enforceable.

Over payments are not isolated incidents. “It's happened every pay period since I've been here.”

To change the Tyler Technologies system back to the original system is an uncertain maneuver, explained Mr. Chambers.

“They have no idea how much it will cost,” he said. “They don't even know if it will work.”


  1. Sorry to have to correct you, but the new County software cost more like $600K for the whole software package, including payroll, accounting, purchasing, etc. That is a long way from $6 million

  2. No offense taken here. My best information is that the main frame computer which runs the software cost $6 million. Hence, my statement, "Politics has influenced a reversal of a $6 million expenditure for new payroll computing equipment and software." That's what I mean by 'equipment" in that statement.

    Further down in the story, I wrote "The payroll system was set to change to an automated bi-weekly schedule run by a new $6 million main frame computer on customized software that would divide the year into 26 equal pay periods."

    All this is based on my best information after an extended interview with a very patient and courteous accountant, Mr. Stan Chambers, the County Auditor. Let me apologize for my tortured, twisted syntax. Thank you for your interest. The people who read these columns are among the most important people in my world.

    The Legendary

  3. Sorry, for another correction but the software is hosted by Tyler Munis. The county does keep images on a server but everything else runs at Tyler Munis. I'm not sure where you are getting the 6 million.

  4. Mr. Chambers furnished that figure in my interview with him. He said the money was spent to acquire a new main frame computer. He also said that it costs $58,000 to continue to run the outmoded system of payroll, and that the people who programmed the new system say they have no idea if a retrograde refit will even work.

    The Legendary

  5. With all due respect, Mr. Anonymous, you know, anything more than two bits is a total waste of money if it doesn't work. In for a penny; in for a pound. Give me some reliable figures and tell me where you got them, you name and some way to get in touch with you, and I will fact check the things you are telling me. If I'm that far out of plumb, I will gladly print a correction, but the story stands for now. I am very sincere and know ye well by these presents that I am -
    The Legendary
    Jim Parks