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Mount Vernon Comptroller Offers Clarification On Payroll Issue

Mount Vernon Comptroller Maureen Walker (standing) in 2013. Photo Credit: Greg Maker
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas is calling on City Comptroller Maureen Walker to modernize its payroll system. Photo Credit: Contributed

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - After Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas called for a more modernized payroll system, City Comptroller Maureen Walker defended the current “positive pay” software.

Last week, Thomas reported that men and women employed by the city had not been paid, citing a payroll error that affected an undisclosed number of workers who were unable to access their money.

On Tuesday, Walker clarified the issue, confirming that 12 employees that do not use direct deposit were unable to cash their checks at the bank due to an error.

“The Comptroller’s Office uses ‘positive pay,’ which is a sophisticated software used to make sure a check presented to the bank for payment originated from the Department of Finance,” Walker wrote in a statement to Daily Voice. “The bank uploads the names of the payees, the check numbers and the amounts to be paid, (retaining it) in their files.

“When an employee presents a check for payment, the bank locates that information in their files to make sure it was legitimately issued. On the day in question, the bank was late in uploading the file so about 12 employees had approximately an hour’s delay in cashing their checks. At that time, the payroll account had approximately $4.1 million in it.”

Thomas said that in 2015, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli issued a critical audit of the current payroll processing system, stating that the state “found that some workers were being overpaid, and some were being underpaid, and there was no uniform method of tracking payroll." He said that some workers were paid on days they didn’t even show up for work.

“It’s been over two years since New York State delivered its request that the Comptroller’s office automate payroll and it’s time for the city to modernize its systems,” he stated. “Our firefighters, police officers, and public works employees work day in and day out for the people of Mount Vernon. They expect, and deserve, prompt compensation.”

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