DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – CBS 11 News has learned the city of Dallas’ problem-plagued payroll system has impacted firefighters and police officers for years now.
The mistakes have shown up in their paychecks and with their health care coverage.
“This is an issue that needs to be solved, ” said Kelly Gottschalk, the Executive Director of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund.
Their job is to make sure first responders’ pensions are being calculated properly and when mistakes are made with their paychecks, that could impact not only the employees, but the retirement fund, too.
To prevent that, Gottschalk said she has one of her four retirement counselors dedicated to fixing the payroll problems impacting the fund, which she says started happening at least six years ago.
“I can tell you the problems are significantly higher right now over the last few months than they have been. I know I have about a thousand errors right now, and some of them may impact the same police officer or firefighter,” she said.
The fund was going broke until two years ago, when state lawmakers passed a law to keep that from happening.
The payroll problems went public late last week after the Dallas Fire Fighters Association’s leaders posted this letter they sent to City Manager T.C. Broadnax on social media.
“There needs to be simple checks and balances in place that aren’t,” said Gottschalk.
She said one situation she would like to see changed occurs when the city doesn’t withhold enough of an officer’s or firefighter’s pension contribution.
The city will arrange a plan for the employee to reimburse the city.
“The payroll error is between the city of Dallas and the employee, not the pension fund. So as soon as the city knows they’ve underpaid us, I think they have obligation to pay us right away and they can deal with the employee however they need to do so,” Gottschalk said.
A new city payroll system will go online next January, but Gottschalk says that doesn’t necessarily mean problems will be corrected.
“I’m concerned they’re not fully understanding all of the issues that we have on our side. And because they don’t fully understand the impacts, I’m concerned the new system may have some of the same problems as the old system,” she said.
Gottschalk said she hopes to meet with city staff about this issue and that she knows the city is working hard to resolve these issues.
Late Monday, a statement from the city said it’s now looking into the possibility of having a consultant come to help resolve the issues.
Dallas Council Member Jennifer Gates, who is Chair of the Government Performance and Financial Management Committee, said she’s pleased the city is considering bringing in an outside firm to help the city correct mistakes being made on Dallas firefighters’ and police officers’ paychecks and with their health care coverage.
“I think they’re taking it seriously obviously. We want our police and firefighters to be paid fairly,” said Gates.