Three city recreation employees were paid through controversial offline checks after the city’s recreation division “could not find their timesheet.” The division apparently faxed the documents showing the number of hours each of the three employees worked, but the timesheets were inadvertently left out of the fax transmission.
“That particular department [recreation] faxed what they thought was five sheets of timesheets outlining every single employee. They [payroll] received four out of those five sheets and it was learned those three individual names were on that fifth sheet,” explained business administrator Nellie Pou to council members last week.
“One could assume they’re not using the automated time track system?” asked Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large.
“They’re all required to punch in and punch out,” said Pou. The business administrator, after responding to the question, found herself explaining to council members why the paper timesheets existed, when the city has a time tracking system, where each employee swipes in.
Pou said she has requested a list of employees who are not using the city’s digital system to track hours worked. Some of the employees, who are not using the digital time recording system, have medical conditions that prevent them from utilizing the system, said Pou.
“We’re asking for all of that information, as well as clarification, and justification along with supporting [medical] documentation,” said Pou.
“Every time I hear about this particular allergy,” said Morris, “I can’t help but chuckle.” For some years, council members have been clamoring for a more efficient and computerized hour keeping system, one that is more difficult to temper with than sheets of papers completed by each employee.
The city has a time tracking system, but that system is circumvented by some employees, who claim to have medical conditions which preclude them from using the system. Most common excuse, one that appears laughable to city officials, is some sort of an allergy to the metal that is placed on the surface of the machine, where an employee must press.
Pou said she has taken steps to correct the problem. “I addressed that today, and absolutely told them that under no circumstance should there be any transmission of time records in that fashion,” said the business administrator.
The business administrator also added that in November the city plans to migrate to a new system that was purchased almost a year ago. The system provided by Edmund & Associate will allow the city to better track hours for employees, thereby building a somewhat temper proof hour tracking system.
“We’ll see the actual implementation of that by January 2015,” said Pou. Although Pou said she has addressed the issue with the recreation division, recreation director Benjie Wimberly said he was unfamiliar with the matter.
Over 400 employees work at the recreation division in summer, said Wimberly. “I’m not familiar with the matter,” said Wimberly.
With such a large number of individuals toiling at the division things like loss of timesheet can happen, said Wimberly. “That wouldn’t be abnormal,” added the director.
It’s unclear, whether the division found the timesheet prior to issuing checks to the three employees.
Offline checks bear a foul stench after mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, during his last mayoral stint, was discovered cashing in vacation days for checks; and former mayor Jeffery Jones, following Torres’ precedence, cashed in vacation days for an approximately $17,000 manual check.
Both mayors cleverly circumvented the council, obtaining approval for the offline checks without revealing an exact reason for their issuance; since then, the council has reformed the way offline checks are displayed in payment of bills, allowing council members to see what each manual check is for.
The reformed display allowed council members to spot the three employees, who were paid using offline checks due to a timesheets issue.
Pou said the city has been discouraging the issuance of manual or offline checks. The business administrator said she has informed department heads to avoid employing offline checks. “There should be no offline checks or manual checks,” said Pou.