After reading several articles that reported “Mount Vernon payroll has insufficient funds for city employees to cash checks” and “Mt. Vernon no-pay day. Muni checks bounce” and “Workers’ pay delayed” I find it necessary to provide a written response through your media to inform our readers.
As the Comptroller of the City of Mount Vernon, here is what took place.
On Friday, May 25, 2017, about 12 employees went to cash their checks at the bank. The Comptroller’s Office uses “positive pay” which is a sophisticated software used to make sure a check presented to the bank for payment originated from the Department of Finance. The bank uploads the names of the payees, the check numbers and the amounts to be paid and retains it in their files.
When an employee presents a check for payment, the bank locates that information in their files to make sure it was legitimately issued. On the day in question, the bank was late in uploading the file so about 12 employees had approximately an hour’s delay in cashing their checks. At that time, the payroll account which was fully funded on May 24, at 11.55am had approximately $4.1 million in it (the payroll was approximately $2.2M). The articles published in several news media do not reflect the true picture of what occurred.
For the record, the Department of Finance has been using an electronic system for the past fifteen years to prepare the city’s payroll. Approximately 80% of our employees are paid through direct deposit. The 12 employees affected have chosen to receive paper checks. All employees who have direct deposit had access to their funds as early as 12.01am Friday morning. Therefore the reports of “insufficient funds” and “bounced checks” were totally false.
Maureen Walker, CPA
Comptroller of the City of Mount Vernon