Hall County officials met with representatives of ADP, the nation’s largest payroll services provider, last week for informal talks about how the company might improve the way checks are processed and cut for some 1,600 county workers.
Officials have previously discussed reducing the number of pay periods for employees as a way to save money.
But addressing inefficiencies in the way work hours are tallied could be the cost-cutting solution officials are looking for.
Human Resources Director Bill Moats has said there is no consistent method across all county departments for tallying employee hours, and more than 60 timekeepers are charged with tracking and processing hours logged.
For example, Commissioner Scott Gibbs said one employee at the fire department spends up to two weeks each month on payroll-related duties.
“It’s so inefficient,” Gibbs said. “You just can’t run a 1,600-person organization like that.”
Plans are in the works to implement an electronic timekeeping system next year, which officials hope will cut down on mistakes by eliminating human error, as well as free dozens of personnel to manage other job duties.
The county has budgeted more than $200,000 for the new system.
Gibbs also wants to end payroll processing within the finance department, which is responsible for cutting checks.
Gibbs said there are many withholdings (such as the public safety retirement fund) and garnishments (such as child support) that must be processed each pay cycle, a daunting challenge for time-strapped county employees.
Gibbs said he believes this is where ADP, which provides payroll services for about 600,000 businesses, can step in and help.
But there are no plans to contract with ADP just yet.
“We’re just trying to get a handle on it,” Gibbs said.
But not all county officials are convinced major savings could be had by cleaning up the way payroll is processed.
“I think it’s a little early,” Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Mecum said. “I’d like to see what we’re really talking about.”
Mecum said the county needs to conduct a full review and analysis to determine just how much payroll processing costs, adding he doesn’t want to jump to conclusions or chase a quick fix.
He questions, for example, whether 60 or more county personnel are really tied up as timekeepers.
“How much are people really involved in this?” Mecum asked. “I’ve got some real questions as to whether that’s factual.”