Humboldt County Courthouse
Humboldt County Deputy County Administrative Officer Sean Quincey released an update on the county’s payroll problems this afternoon, saying U.S. Bank has confirmed it has what it needs to make direct deposit payments to county employees by the close of business today.
“We are in the process of printing out paper checks for employees who do not normally receive direct deposits,” Quincey wrote. “In addition, a small subset of employees who receive direct deposits had errors in their banking information and will receive paper checks.”
The Humboldt County Courthouse will remain open until 6 p.m. today, Quincey wrote, giving employees who need to pick up paper checks a bit of additional time to do so. Any checks not picked up today will be mailed Saturday morning.
In related matters, while county Auditor-Controller Karen Paz Dominguez was working to sort out the payroll issues this morning, the Humboldt County Workforce Development Board voted overwhelmingly to issue a statement of no-confidence in her office, citing ongoing issues that have prevented completion of the county’s 2019-2020 single audit, which the board fears could put state and federal funding streams in jeopardy.
Humboldt County employees who receive their checks via direct deposit did not get paid on schedule this morning due to a payroll error that staff worked through the night to remedy, manually inputting all the information needed to issue paychecks.
“We still expect to have [Nov. 19’s] direct deposits out to employees by the end of the business day,” states an interoffice memo sent to all county employees shortly after midnight by County Administrative Officer Elisha Hayes and Auditor-Controller Karen Paz Dominguez that First District Supervisor Rex Bohn posted
to his Facebook page at 7:57 a.m. today.
The memo says that employees verifying information in the county’s payroll system “realized some calculations involved in calculating pay, benefits, taxes and withholdings were not processing through our financial system normally for around half the county workforce.”
“The calculation errors did not appear to have any consistent theme that allowed us to pinpoint a root cause,” the memo continues. “However, we had all of the information needed to issue paychecks and knew we could manually enter information if needed.”
And that’s apparently what staff did, manually producing the payroll file and sending it off to U.S. Bank, where county funds are held, just prior to its 10 p.m. deadline.
“We have no reason to believe the file was not received and processed as normal, however, the timing of the receipt may affect the time when employees receive their pay,” Hayes and Paz Dominguez wrote.
Coast Central Credit Union shared Bohn’s Facebook post, telling customers that as of 8:52 a.m. today, it had “not yet received the direct deposits” but was ready to process them as soon as they arrive.
The county’s payroll team will work today with various vendors to “pinpoint where things went wrong,” and will also bring in more resources to “improve workflow, efficiency and the timing of the various steps involved in issuing payroll.”
Paz Dominguez and Hayes also said they will work with the county’s “banking partners” this morning to “respectfully request they prioritize processing our payroll files as soon as possible.” But they also notified employees that because all the payroll information was entered manually, direct deposit receipts will not show “hours worked, taxes paid, time banks, etc.” but that they expect to get employees that information by the close of business today.
The payroll issue comes amid growing frustrations
with the county’s Auditor-Controller Office, which the board of supervisors tasked with payroll services back in August and has been besieged with allegations of missed audit deadlines and other financial oversight issues that county department heads and outside agencies say have led to delayed reimbursements and lost funds. And news of the delayed payments also broke just as the Humboldt County Workforce Development Board was convening to discuss a potential no-confidence vote in Paz Dominguez’s office due to concerns that an unfinished single audit from the 2019-2020 could put federal and state economic development funds in jeopardy.