Under the Dome

Payroll errors snatch checks away from prison officers

It’s been a bad start to the holidays for some state employees, beginning with two dozen prison officers who are stuck with repaying overtime that they weren’t supposed to receive – through no fault of their own.

Twenty-five prison correctional officers were inadvertently overpaid when their work schedules were improperly changed in the state payroll system BEACON, which state law requires that they repay.

The officers had been on 28-day cycles but were changed to 40-hour weeks when they returned from leaves or their work locations changed, which allowed for more overtime to be paid. When the state Department of Public Safety discovered the mistake and corrected the payroll system, BEACON automatically deducted all the overpayment – which meant some employees wouldn’t have a paycheck for November and in other cases no paycheck for several months.

Fourteen officers have to repay between $1,000 and $4,440, while the others have to repay less than $1,000, according to DPS. So that employees are not left without a way to pay their bills, the agency is advancing the officers their pay minus 10 percent each month until the overpayments are settled.

The mistakes follow a recent state audit that found that six officers who worked at the now-closed Wayne Correctional Center have to repay a total of $58,000 because they were overpaid for four years.

Also, last week about 5,000 state employees received health insurance identification cards with the wrong plan or primary care provider choices listed. The state Treasurer’s Office said it is mailing out new cards immediately. The errors were only on the employees’ ID cards, and not in the actual paperwork.