ST. PAUL (WCCO) – A new payroll system in the city of St. Paul is causing major problems for some firefighters.
The Local 21 Firefighters Union says the city overpaid more than $170,000 to some firefighters in the past month, and didn’t do a thorough job communicating with the affected employees.READ MORE: Brooklyn Center Issues Last-Minute Curfew, 100 Protesters Arrested Friday Night
St. Paul fireman Jeremiah Melquist says he didn’t think he would have to problem solve when it came to his paycheck.
“I got 20 to 25 calls a day with guys either being overpaid or underpaid,” he said.
It started at the beginning of the year when the City of St. Paul rolled out a new payroll system, the first update in 30 years. The city says it’s easier and more transparent but, like any new program, it hit some glitches – there were problems with properly submitting pension and unions dues.
Of the 430 city firefighters, about 170 were overpaid close to $170,000 of taxpayer money throughout two pay periods.
St. Paul Human Resources Director Angie Nalezny says it was a programming error, and that the money will be taken out of firefighters checks $366 at a time until the money is paid back to the city.READ MORE: Deployment Of National Guard Makes Some Feel On Edge, Others More Safe
But as treasurer of the union, Melquist says the city didn’t inform individual firefighters how much they had been overpaid or underpaid. Instead, they were directed to talk to the union about any perceived issues on their paychecks.
“We were basically sold that this new payroll system would make it a lot easier for our members to understand our pay,” he said. “Our early returns are the exact opposite.”
Nalezny says the city is looking at how to improve the payroll system and how it communicates any problems. She says all the glitches are now fixed, but suggests a double check.
“We’ve encouraged all city employees to look at their paycheck,” she said.
Melquist says he hopes the payroll problems are finished so he can get back to more important work.
“We are just hoping it doesn’t go into paycheck five, six and seven with the same problems.” He said.MORE NEWS: Pedestrian Struck And Killed In Hopkins, Driver Taken Into Custody
The city says the problems have only come up with firefighters so far because they’re in a complicated situation working longer hours and having union deductions. Still, the city wants all 4,000 employees to look closely at their paychecks.