Thursday, January 20, 2011
Mayor, city board debate direct deposit
By SUE WATSON
The board of aldermen of the city of Holly Springs has voted to offer direct deposit to its employees, but the process is being debated by the mayor and board.
Alderman Harvey Payne asked about the status of direct deposit of payroll checks which the board had voted to be optional.
City clerk Belinda McDonald said bankers are planning to come before the board to explain the process of direct deposit.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry said bank representatives asked to come before the city leaders to present the overall picture of how direct deposit is handled.
McDonald said city hall is concerned that there is a weekly payroll, a bi-weekly payroll and a monthly payroll, depending on the employee.
She said converting to direct deposit would create more work for clerks because each employee’s file would have to be handled separately.
“We are saying we have concerns, too,” McDonald said. “We are saying it is too much work and too much risk of errors. Yakisha (Harris) does too much.”
Payne suggested the board wait to hear from the bank.
DeBerry said his main concern is that it would disrupt close to 50 percent of city employees who do not have bank accounts.
“You may disrupt 50 people who use another system,” he said. “Let it be optional.”
Bagley said the board had voted to make it optional in its original motion.
Alderman Garrie Colhoun said he objects to making the direct deposit mandatory and suggested the weekly employees could be paid twice a month to save work by the payroll clerk.
Alderman Russell Johnson said the weekly payroll should go to twice a month due to the work load.
“I agree with Andre,” said Colhoun. “Some employees live paycheck to paycheck and have no checking account. I’d hate to slap them with life-changing...”
Johnson said the Holly Springs School District uses direct deposit for all employees.
“I want it to be optional,” said Colhoun.
“Weekly is going to be too often,” said McDonald. “We need two weeks to get it done.”
“For those who want to be paid weekly, let them stay,” said Payne.
Mayor DeBerry said implementation of the measure “is where the rubber meets the road” - that officials should take into consideration how changes affect the work load on employees.
Marshall County has offered direct deposit to its employees for close to five years, said comptroller Suzie Hill. It is not mandatory.
“We give ourselves a choice,” she said. “Some elect direct deposit and some want a paper check.”
If an employee chooses direct deposit and doesn’t want it afterward, they can be switched back to a paper check, she said. Those who use direct deposit also get a check stub in the mail for their records.
Nichole Phelps in the chancery clerk’s office handles payroll - which includes payroll deductions, workman’s compensation claims and benefits.
Hill said about 65 percent of county employees - there are close to 200 employees - opt for the direct deposit. Employees with the sheriff’s department, E-911 and the road and bridge department are paid twice a month and the remainder are paid once a month on the last working day, Hill said.
Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas instituted direct deposit for those who wanted it around the year 2005, she said.
At the county school district payroll office, Tammy Day said the district went to mandatory direct deposit about five years ago. It has not been any trouble to serve close to 450 employees, she said. She has an assistant who helps with payroll but who also has other duties.
“What we found out with banks, some allow people to open an account with a minimum of $50,” she said. “Some checks are routed to an employee’s credit card and do not go to banks.”
County school district employees are paid twice a month which means that the payroll department has to do the routing two days ahead of time. But employees are happy with it, Day said.
“The employees absolutely love it because their money is in the bank quicker than if they deposit their checks,” she said.
If the 15th of the month falls on a Saturday, checks are direct deposited on the Friday before, and if it falls on a Sunday, the checks are in the bank first thing Monday morning, Day said.
“So the money can go to the bank quicker than they can get their checks there,” she said.
The county has over 50 banks, credit unions, savings accounts and the like where it routes payroll for employees, she said.
“Anything you can deposit money into, we’ve figured out a way to do it,” she said.
Substitute teachers are not required to use direct deposit, but substitutes who work regularly often request direct deposit, she said.
Day’s office handles all payroll deposits, payroll deductions, insurance, and all enrollment papers for human resources.
“From the time a person is hired until they leave, we take care of them,” she said.
At the Holly Springs School District superintendent’s office, Tennys Mayfield handles the direct deposit for about 300 employees. The district made direct deposit mandatory for all full-time employees a year or so ago. Before that, it was optional, she said.
“It was no problem at all to do,” she said.
And employees do not misplace checks and have to request another one to be cut, she said. Most of the time, employees have their money in the bank a day earlier than when they would be able to cash their checks.
Direct deposit is convenient for employees and the business office, Mayfield said. She handles all payroll deposits and deductions and another person handles human resources, Mayfield said.
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