Local Politics

Workers protest state's payroll system

Posted August 29, 2008 5:14 p.m. EDT
Updated August 29, 2008 8:43 p.m. EDT

— About a dozen employees, saying tbey represent many more at a special needs school in Wilson, protested the state's troubled payroll system, saying they are having too much money deducted from their paychecks to correct an earlier mistake.

Past problems surrounding the BEACON payroll system concerned overtime and shift differential pay.

However, workers at the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf were overpaid in June. In July, the state realized the mistake and notified employees about it.

They were given options to pay the money back then or to have a percentage deducted from their paychecks each pay period for several weeks.

The problem is, they say, that those who took the deduction option are getting paychecks for a lot less than they should.

"If it's not mine, take it," school employee Mavis Mercer said. "But they're telling me I owe them about $2,000 back. I didn't make $2,000 in a month. I want them to take what's theirs. Don't take what's mine."

Some employees say they aren't getting paid anything. And that means funds usually deducted for insurance benefits are not being paid. They are likely to have that taken out of their September paychecks.

"It's very frustrating," employee Daniel Varnell said. "I have to pay my bills. I have to pay for my car, my pager and everything – my food and my gas."

Dr. Dwight Pearson, the superintendant for the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Education Services, says the division will review each employee's case to determine a resolution.

"As far as we're concerned, it's a BEACON problem," he said.

The state controller is ultimately responsible for fixing the system.

Since rolling it out in April, the state has received thousand of questions and complaints about paychecks.

Employees can call hotlines to have their cases reviewed. In Raleigh, the number is 919-707-0707.  Elsewhere in the state, workers can call  866-622-3784.