County payroll problems continue (MI) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

County payroll problems continue

Payment on hold for vendor's multimillion-dollar technology upgrade

Monday, February 28, 2000


Washtenaw County's new paycheck-processing system is still producing errors four payroll periods into the new year, prompting the county to withhold $300,000 from its computer vendor until the problems are solved.

Last week's payroll produced about 50 errors, most of them small ones, said County Administrator Robert E. Guenzel.

"Each payroll is getting better, but we're still working on the system issue," Guenzel said.

In earlier pay periods, about 200 employees had reported errors, ranging from wrong pay rates to missing overtime pay to incorrect withholding.

Last December, the county switched from the old MSA system to J.D. Edwards in a multimillion-dollar technological upgrade as part of Y2K preparedness. Most county functions went undisturbed in the first week of the year, but the Jan. 7 payday wreaked havoc for both county administration and 1,300 employees because, officials said, the computer vendor was unable to update the database in time.

J.D. Edwards representatives could not be reached for comment.

Some county workers received their first paychecks of the new year with incorrect amounts ranging from a few dollars to a couple of hundred dollars. Many sheriff's deputies who worked on holidays didn't get their overtime pay; United Way withholdings were either too much or too little; salary adjustments under new union contracts were not figured in; and about a dozen employees didn't get their checks at all, prompting the payroll office to issue exception checks immediately.

The computer conversion cost the county about $2 million, with the payroll service accounting for $1 million.

"We have not paid the full contract amount to (J.D. Edwards)," Guenzel said. "We're holding $300,000 until we reach a final settlement. Our goal is work with the vendor to make the system work. It's a good system."

Every two weeks, the county issues paychecks totaling $2 million. In addition to permanent employees, hundreds of seasonal and temporary workers bring to about 2,000 the total biweekly payroll checks issued, Guenzel said.

In a series of e-mail messages to employees, Guenzel has detailed procedures of reporting errors and how to correct them. His latest memo, dated Feb. 17, assured them: "We believe all of our efforts have paid off and that this pay period we will not experience as many problems as with previous cycles."

He reiterated that "the highest priority will be given to every employee who does not receive a paycheck. Our goal is to deliver a paycheck before the end of workday."

Despite the prolonged annoyance, county employees will have a consolation prize next month: March will bless them with three paychecks.

-- Homer Beanfang (, February 28, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ