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County debates biweekly paychecks

County officials said the moce would save money and time and would affect about 800 workers.

County officials said the moce would save money and time and would affect about 800 workers.

March 10, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County officials are taking steps to change the county's payroll system from weekly to every other week, a move they said would save dollars and time.

The County Commissioners agreed last week to gather more information on the possible switch, which would affect approximately 800 employees, including the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

"I think it's long overdue," Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said Sunday.

"I want to do that because I think there's a savings to the county there," Commissioner John C. Munson said.

But officials also said such a move wouldn't come without concerns from county employees, who would have to adjust their budgets with the change.

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"I know people are going to complain for a week or two. Once they get used to it, I think they'll be happy with it," Munson said.

County Administrator Rodney Shoop said last week that the county considered switching to biweekly paychecks several years ago but it never happened.

The switch, proposed in 1998, would have affected more than 600 full-time and about 200 part-time employees. The County Commissioners ruled against the move, deciding it would have caused morale problems and made life hard for those who live from paycheck to paycheck.

Officials said in 1998 that going to a biweekly system would have saved $3,499.

County officials do not yet know how much money the move would save this time around, but Shoop said he thinks the commissioners would approve a biweekly pay period.

"I think we will this time," Shoop said. "If we get the go-ahead, then we'll start down that path."

He also said an every-other-week system is used by many employers.

"Biweekly pay is typical in our society," Shoop said. "We want to certainly save as much as we can ... and catch up with the times."

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said it would probably take six to eight months before employees would be paid every other week.

Shoop said the county would work out a plan that would ease the transition for employees.

"We do have employees who it could create a hardship for," Shoop said. "We're going to certainly do our best to ease that transition."

Director of Budget and Finance Debbie Bastian said last week that a biweekly system would make check processing more efficient. She said the weekly payroll system creates a hassle during holidays and when staff members go on vacation.

"It's an administrative burden in my department," Bastian said.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval said the county would have to process about 20,000 less paychecks with a biweekly system.

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