City Controller Identifies Payroll Glitch

As the city faces a 100-million dollar shortfall next year — auditors are looking for every opportunity to trim the budget. Correcting one small blip in the city’s payroll system could save almost three quarters of a million dollars a year. Laurie Johnson reports.

$650,000 may not seem like much in the $100 million scheme of things — but that’s how much money the city could save by fixing a glitch in the employee payroll system.

Houston Controller Ron Green says the glitch applies to employees who work compressed work weeks, where they put in four ten-hour days as opposed to a regular work schedule. Right now, if a city holiday falls on the same day as an employee’s compressed day off, they get paid twice, making 88 hours in a work period instead of the standard 80.

“And so now what we have to do is have the employee choose an alternative day off so that they still can work the compressed work week, but that they’ll get paid the 80 hours and the city is not out of pocket for any additional expense.”

Although the amount of money saved will be small, Green says identifying inefficiencies is the best way for the city to save money.

“What you have to understand is that we provide service. So whenever we are looking for ways to cut expenses, you know that’s normally what we equate to a decrease in our service delivery. If we can become more efficient in what we do then of course we don’t have to lay off employees and we can continue to provide the service that people expect.”

Green says an auditor in his department found the payroll system glitch and it will be fixed immediately. Last year, more than 1,000 city employees were paid the extra money, costing the city $612,000.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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