Schools find payroll errors

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said Friday it had discovered payroll errors affecting 1,141 employees, who either overpaid for benefits or did not pay enough for the coverage they chose.

It appeared that most of the errors involved underpayment by employees, who will be required to reimburse CMS for the amounts.

The errors were discovered by the school system as it prepared to switch to a new system of managing benefits and payroll. CMS says the errors date to last Oct. 1, when the district last had open enrollment for benefits coverage.

“This was our error, and we are sorry that some of our employees will be financially inconvenienced,” said Superintendent Peter Gorman. “Unfortunately, because we're funded with tax dollars, we can't just forgive the amount that was underpaid.”

The district is notifying employees affected by the problem by letters, which were mailed Friday.

CMS did not break down the numbers of employees who paid too much or underpaid.

But the school system said the amount of money being reimbursed to those who paid too much is $12,140 – compared with $148,728 that is owed by employees to the school system for underpayment.

Gorman said employees who did not pay enough will have two options for repayment: a single payment or nine monthly payments deducted from paychecks.

Those who overpaid will receive the money back in a single lump sum. Gorman said the errors affect a wide range of employees, from senior managers to bus drivers. He said most of the errors involved amounts of $100 or less.

The errors were discovered when the district performed an audit to compare employee benefits data in the current payroll system and the current benefits system. Benefits and payroll are handled by separate departments.

“We are reviewing existing processes and audit controls to find ways to improve them,” said Sheila Shirley, chief financial officer with the school system.