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July 24, 2024

Shelby County – Working Or On Vacation?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On July 9, 2024

Shelby Co. (ECWd) –

In Shelby County, ongoing discussions have been regarding accurate timekeeping and payroll records.  This was just discussed again in the Legislative Committee meeting on Tuesday evening.  The Shelby County Health Department Administrator has refused to allow the county board to install electronic timeclocks, which are being utilized throughout the rest of the county with a recent exception of the Sheriff’s office, which has advised his full-time employees to stop using the electronic timekeeping. Let’s not forget a forensic audit of the Sheriff’s office exposed over $750,000.00 in errors that have yet to be corrected. It was that audit which led to the county policy of implementing electronic timekeeping countywide. Two steps forward, three steps back?

On page 24 of the current AFSCME Union contract, Section 1. Attendance Records, states “The Employer shall maintain accurate daily attendance records”.  Page 37 of the contract states in a Memorandum of Understanding that “Individual department head records continue to be recognized as the official records for payroll purposes”.

We submitted a FOIA request to the County Clerk for payroll records for the Health Department for December 2023 which are submitted to the Treasurer’s office for payment.  The records show no employee missed one day during the month nor was any employee one minute early or left late during the month. They all clocked in and out at the same exact time. This is statistically impossible. Those records are here, here, and here.

Considering December is a common month for people to take vacation time around the holiday we asked for a copy of all the benefit time taken by the Health Department employees during the same time frame as the payroll records.  Considering the payroll records indicate everyone worked every day we expected to get records indicating no benefit time was taken.  We were wrong with such an expectation. Benefit time records produced are at these links here and here.

Because the union contract states the official records are held by the department head, we submitted a FOIA request to the Health Department for the “official” payroll records.  The records we received matched the records from the County Clerk with the exception of the fact not a single signature was redacted by the Health Department in their FOIA response (we redacted signatures).  (Health Department Pay Record)

Benefit records conflict with actual payroll records. How can payroll records be true and accurate when official records at the health department indicate people were on vacation on days indicated they clocked in and out from work?  Note we only focused on vacation time even though it is clear from the benefit record people were not working even though payroll records indicate they were.

We would question why timesheets do not reflect an accurate record of attendance.  A grievance has reportedly been filed by health department employees against the county board for voting to implement electronic timekeeping under the management rights provision of the contract.  Where does that grievance stand?  One would question why anyone would be concerned with an accurate daily record of attendance, but it is clear several in the county are fighting it.

The Health Department Administrator who is fighting the timeclock issue, should give an answer as to why public records do not reflect a true and accurate record of use of public funds.  The union contract and the law require accurate records.  Based on the records produced we are not sure how anyone can say the payroll records are true and accurate.  While we understand the “benefit record” may be true and accurate, that is not the payroll record.

We reached out to Steve Melega, the health department director for comment, and let’s just say most of what was provided had nothing to do with the questions asked.  My two questions were very basic:

1. How is it possible for every single person to clock in and out at exactly the same time every day?
2. How can a person be on vacation yet also be clocked in for work?

His email responses can be read at these links here, here, and here. Anyone reading them can see there was never an answer to the two simple questions.

The final effort to get a straight answer was a waste of time.

Question: “The fact of the matter is, the payroll records submitted indicate a person worked a regular day of work when in fact that is not what happened.  Do you dispute that fact?”

Answer: “The health department payroll record is paid time for that day.”

 

 

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3 Comments
  • JohnThomas
    Posted at 10:12h, 09 July Reply

    Shelby County…. Is it the water? Is it the gene pool? Is it the local Democrat fiefdoms? There must be some factor that causes elected/appointed officials and public employees in Shelby County to believe they are above the law.

    I remember when the dive team was first established years ago. The dive team spent a significant amount of money on equipment and training at a Springfield, IL dive shop. I helped with their pool and open water training. It never entered my mind that games were played with public funds. Boy, was I naive. Now I’m appalled.

  • Droopy: Master Sergeant
    Posted at 13:02h, 09 July Reply

    The administrator should be fired immediately and charges of official misconduct investigated. Why are the county board and board of health allowing it? Where is the accountability in Shelby county?

  • Former Government Employee
    Posted at 21:31h, 09 July Reply

    It’s too bad that Shelby County or other similar size Counties don’t have an Administrator or other Mentor program for their Department Heads. Ethic classes are helpful, but nothing beats having a person in the middle of local government who can serve as an example, and steer Public Officials away from the appearance of impropriety and poor choices.

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