Meridian's audit identifies problems in city's payroll system

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The firm of Breazeale, Saunders & O'Neil conducted its annual audit of the city of Meridian's books for the previous fiscal year, identifying a problem in the city's payroll system and the tabulation of hours worked.

"We classified that as a significant deficiency because we think the council and the administration needs to be doing some things to tweak the payroll, to enhance it and to make it more modern. It's the biggest cost for the city. It needs to do something to make it better," said certified public accountant, Paul Breazeale.

Mayor Percy Bland says a new direction is needed to modernize policy and practices. He says an example is having three people manually entering workers' time for more than 500 employees.

"They basically spend the whole day going through manual time records to data entry in those time records. We need to modernize that and we talked about that for a long time. It's just a direction we need to be in consistently throughout the entire city," said Mayor Bland.

One city council member proposed two possible solutions of how payroll management could be more efficient.

"One would be the technology that we're looking at to modernize our system and include the council, so we can analyze things more properly. Identity if there's any waste or abuse in the system. The second one will be an overall cutting of payroll cost," said Ward 5 Councilman Weston Lindemann.

"We will actually be using the time card. The time card records will have to be put in by the person. We will be getting exactly how many hours that person worked in a day," said Bland.

The mayor says the administration cut $32 million in expenses last year and the majority of that was though hard payroll cuts.