Corona overpaid city employees by approximately $540,000 last year for overtime work – and may have been paying too much for many years – because of an error in payroll software the city bought in 1999, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported August 3.
The excess payment during the fiscal year that ended June 30 was discovered during an audit, officials disclosed in a news release. A spokesperson said an independent auditor will determine how many employees were overpaid, and by how much. The release said the audit showed that hourly employees were paid tens of dollars to a few hundred dollars extra per pay period. The spokesperson told the Press-Enterprise that city officials believe the city overpaid in prior years, as well.
“We don’t know exactly how long this error existed or when it first started due to the system being reprogrammed many times over the years,” the spokesperson said. “This will be verified by our external audit.”
City officials will meet with employee unions to “determine the best approach” for returning the overpayments, the spokesperson said. Under state law, only excess payments made in the past three years may be recovered.
“This is unfortunate,” Vice Mayor Jacque Casillas said. “It’s an error. But we’ve caught it and we’re turning it around as fast as we can. … We are always going to own any mistakes that we make.”
Trevor Walsh, president of the 100-member Corona Firefighters Association, called it “shocking” that the error was found in software bought more than 20 years ago.
“If there is, in fact, an issue of overpayment, we’ll be the first to the table to get that money back to the taxpayers of the city,” Walsh said. “We’re happy with what we earn and we don’t want to take any more than that.” (Source: Riverside Press-Enterprise, August 3.)