by Ryan Burns
The vast majority of county employees who've signed up for automatic paycheck deposits were alarmed last week and into the weekend as, one by one, they discovered that their latest paychecks had not arrived on schedule. The snafu was the result of an as-yet-undetermined accounting error, Assistant County Administrative Officer Phil Smith-Hanes explained this afternoon, and it could leave the county on the hook for untold bank overdraft fees.
"Payroll transmitted everything like normal on Wednesday," Smith-Hanes said, "but for some reason we're still trying to figure out there were extraneous lines in the transmission and Bank of America didn't process the payment."
All county employees have been paid as of this morning, Smith-Hanes said, but the effects of the delay remain to be seen. The county has agreed to cover any and all fees charged to employees who bounced checks or otherwise overdrew their accounts as a result of the late payment, though Smith-Hanes said the county treasurer's office is contacting local banks first in an attempt to get those fees waived. Bank of America and Coast Central Credit Union have already agreed to do so, he said.
A meeting will be held at 3:30 this afternoon and a follow-up notice will be sent out informing all county employees how to file a claim. Smith-Hanes said he has no idea how much the total overdraft fees might be but that nearly all of the county's 2,000 or so employees were affected. If some banks won't agree to waive the fees, the county will then ask Bank of America to cover them, Smith-Hanes said, "because we think this was at least partially a mistake on their part."
One way or another, he said, county officials are hoping to take care of the problems without costing the county any extra money. Employees who would like more information should call the Risk Management Department at 268-3669.