Little Rock Newspapers, Inc.
August 11, 2001, Saturday
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. B1
LENGTH: 711 words
HEADLINE: Third time's a charm for state payroll system
BYLINE: MICHAEL R. WICKLINE, ARKANAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE,
It is relatively quiet, said Kay Durnett, executive director of the Arkansas State Employees Association. That is a good thing. We are cautiously optimistic that a majority of the employees have been paid and paid correctly.
She said she knew of at least one state employee who was not paid his correct salary. Joe Quinn, a spokesman for the Department of Human Services, said 52 employees in the 7,500-employee department received less money in their paycheck than they should have and they received checks on Friday morning to make up for what they had been shorted.
We are in real good shape at this point, he said. We have had a good payday.
Richard A. Henderson of Cabot, a child welfare agency licensing specialist for the Department of Human Services, said only $ 528.75 was directly deposited into his account at the Community Bank of Cabot on Friday when he should have received $ 1,104.57. He was paid only $ 528.75 during the first payday under the states new computerized accounting system, he said, but he received the correct amount on the second payday.
As long as they are going to key [time worked into the system] each week, you are just asking for mistakes and people are not going to be paid, he said. He said that because he didnt work Friday afternoon, he didnt know whether the department had written him a check Friday.
State officials said 690 employees werent paid part of all or their paychecks on the first payday under the states new computerized accounting system. Mistakes in the second payday affected 423 employees.
The state has spent $ 43 million on the Arkansas Administrative Statewide Information System during the past two fiscal years, but only $ 36.9 million has been appropriated for the project, according to legislative auditors. But the Huckabee administration contends the project hasnt gone over budget because personnel costs were not meant to be covered by the appropriations for the system.
Both Tim Leathers, deputy director of the state Department of Finance and Administration, and Durnett said Friday that they didnt know of problems with the direct deposit of paychecks into bank accounts of state employees like those experienced during the first and second paydays under the new system.
About 2,800 state employees paychecks werent deposited on time at their banks during each of the first two paydays under the new computerized accounting system because zeros were placed before their bank account numbers.
Gov. Mike Huckabee said the Arkansas Administrative State Information System processed 28,241 direct-deposit paychecks and mailed 4,564 paper checks for the third payday under the new system.
The state payroll appears to be running smoothly, he said in a news release. His statement acknowledged some problems remained, but he did not specify how many.
Leslie Haber, state director for Services Employees International Union Local 100, said the union will hold a rally outside the governors triple-wide mobile home today at 12:30 p.m. to show how some state employees are being affected by not receiving their paychecks on time. A representative of the governor has been invited to the rally, she said.
Huckabee sent a letter Wednesday asking banks and utilities to help state employees who have been assessed late fees or received shut-off notices as a result of receiving paychecks late, but he did not commit the state to doing anything for the workers. Haber said the appeal to banks and utilities was a step in the right direction. We dont know if it is going to work or not, she said.
Huckabee spokesman Jim Harris said the rally organizers met with the governor Thursday morning, so the real question is, since they have already talked to the governor and he is working on their concerns, other than to get a story in the Sunday papers, why are they still holding a rally.
We really want to make the case some of these people are in emergency situations and that they have to figure a way to quickly reimburse the people who are in serious trouble, Haber said.