Poughkeepsie district paid thousands in benefits to non-eligible employees: comptroller

Ryan Santistevan

Poughkeepsie Journal

Dec 17, 2019

The Poughkeepsie City School District's personnel and payroll policies haven't been updated in 28 years.

The district paid 11 retired employees a total of $27,440, though they were not eligible because they didn't participate in the health insurance program. The district also paid $10,560 toward five employees to receive Medicare Part B reimbursements, despite not being eligible.

The school board of education didn't approve a payment of $26,088 toward four maintenance workers for 168.5 accrued days of leave that was "above the carryover limit."

These were among the findings of the state Comptroller's Office following an audit of the district from July 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2018.

In a report released on Friday, the comptroller's office said the district agreed that it should review and update its collective bargaining agreement, develop a procedure to ensure that payroll payments are in line with contracts and CBAs, and implement a procedure for leave accrual record maintenance.

"District officials agreed with our recommendations and indicated they plan to initiate corrective action," according to the report.

The Comptroller's Office made note of "high turnover" in the district's business office, noting between July 2017 and Dec. 2018 it had four assistant superintendents for finance and operations, who oversee the budget. There were also five payroll clerks in charge of the payroll process.

For the fiscal year 2017-2018, the district's salaries and wages were $68.7 millon of the general fund expenditure of $94.4 million.

"The size of the district's payroll costs highlights the importance of ensuring that compensation payments are accurate, properly approved and supported," the report reads.

The office also noted a problem with the district's biometric fingerprint time clock system. The program is for non-instructional employees, including administration. The report claims three employees were overpaid by $1,839, while one employee was underpaid by $1,772.

"The time clock system was not recording time accurately for employees on timesheets and needed to be reviewed for accuracy so that holidays were properly recorded," the report said. "We reviewed the biometric time record for 60 employees for two different pay periods..."