Sometimes, things work out.
Just about a year ago peculiarities in the city's payroll system came to light. This happened, it must be noted, because of the research done by Trenton United blogger Robert Chilson.
One situation that he discovered was that (then) director of public property Harold Hall had collected overtime and double time pay in the first three months of 2011.
Mr. Hall, who in September was promoted to acting director of public works by Mayor Mack, is paid a salary of about $108,000 per year. He is a salaried (not hourly) political appointee. As a rule, salaried employees do not collect overtime as an hourly employee does.
In February and March of 2011, Mr. Hall twice received "double time" compensation for hours worked beyond his normal 35 hour work week. Three time in the same period, Hall received regular overtime (1.5 times his normal rate of pay) for hours worked beyond his regular 35 hour work week.
Payroll records indicate that in the check dated February 3, 2011, Hall received pay for a total of 93.5 hours. We understand that there were weather situations (snow storms) that required an extra effort on the part of the administration to oversee snow removal and such, but it is part of the Mr. Hall's job as a director to work the required time for no extra monetary compensation. Getting paid for 23.5 extra hours was wrong. Getting paid for 23.5 hours of extra time at a higher rate of compensation was more wrong. Hall was paid for 19.5 hours of overtime and four hours of "double overtime" during that pay period. That amounts to just over $2200 extra in one paycheck.
The next pay period, Hall received pay for 13.5 hours of overtime. This equaled an extra $1200 in that paycheck.
In the check issued March 31, 2011, Hall received an additional $1600 dollars in pay split between nine hours of "double overtime" and six hours of overtime.
Finally, the check issued on April 28, 2011 shows that $1526 in overtime was included. This was for an additional 17 hours worked over the regular 70 hours in the pay period.
All totaled, Hall received over $9200 in extra pay from the city that was improper.
In reviewing Hall's payroll records before and since the discovery of his extra pay, we have learned an interesting fact. Mr. Hall's pay was garnished to the tune of $562.87 every two weeks from June through December of last year. This means he paid back some $8400 of the money. (NOTE: we do not have an explanation for the $778 he didn't pay back, but assume it may have to do with some of the payroll deductions, etc.) Kudos to the powers that be (whichever ones came into play) that made this repayment happen.
While none of the money funny business is good news, the fact that it came to light because of the dedicated work of a government watchdog is. This is a prime example how necessary citizen activism is to a healthy civic infrastructure.
Without the work of concerned citizens, government is less accountable.
Who knows how much more money might have been improperly paid to Harold Hall?
Who knows if any of it would ever have been paid back?
Irresponsibility is NOT doing the right thing.