CAMBRIDGE The village overpaid employees by nearly $5,000 from 2013 to 2014 and misstated employee leave time because of poor payroll accounting procedures, according to a state audit.
The report from the state Comptroller’s Office, which covered June 1, 2013, through Dec. 31, 2014, found that the village of about 1,900 residents lacked proper systems and oversight of payroll for its 74 employees.
Nine employees did not receive the correct gross pay during the 2013-14 fiscal year, and three did not receive the correct amount in the 2014-15 year. The errors led to a combined overpayment of $4,922 to certain employees and an underpayment of $92 to others.
In addition, auditors found the village failed to maintain accurate records of how much leave time employees had accumulated. This resulted in the village crediting employees with 11 hours of time they had not earned and shorting others by 169.25 hours as of Dec. 31, 2014. These errors resulted in an overpayment of $188 and an underpayment of $2,815.
The audit said the village should separate responsibilities for maintaining payroll records and printing and signing the checks.
The mayor and trustees did not review the pay rates, nor did the mayor compare the payroll register with documents such as time sheets to make sure they corresponded with the actual number of days worked, according to the audit.
In addition, the Village Board did not formally approve the hourly rates of pay for five employees or payments of $4,533 to the police chief for health insurance buyouts.
The audit said, “Because the board did not establish, document and approve rates for all village employees, village officials have no way to determine if these employees were paid at the correct pay rate.”
The village lacked an adequate system of accounting for employee vacation time, and procedures in its personnel booklet were not being followed, according to the audit. As a result, employees carried over vacation time to which they were not entitled and lost time they should have kept.
For example, the former clerk-treasurer was paid for 141 hours of unused sick time she had accumulated before she resigned. But the personnel policy has no provision for a sick time buyout. In addition, the former clerk-treasurer incorrectly received vacation pay of $628 for 32 hours taken off in 2013-14, and $1,001 for 50 hours in 2014-15.
The audit recommends increasing oversight of the payroll process, ensuring that all pay rates and compensation are authorized, requiring the treasurer to maintain leave records for all departments and to review them periodically to find and correct mistakes. The report also recommended the mayor review the time sheets and other documents and that the village put in place a comprehensive leave accrual policy.
The period covered in the report predates new Mayor Carman Bogle, who took office in April. Bogle said many of the recommendations already have been implemented.
When the board adopted the new budget, it reviewed the pay rates for all employees. During the first pay period of the new fiscal year in June, Bogle said the trustees compared the pay rates with the checks. Also, the treasurer is providing her with a report generated from the timecard system for her to check the hours.
“It takes a good amount of time, but it’s definitely important to make sure everybody’s getting paid what they should be,” she said.
Another issue involved a police officer who started his career in Greenwich, but transferred to Cambridge. Bogle said Cambridge village officials had just calculated the leave time based on his service to Cambridge, rather than the whole department. The board has adopted a policy to correct this.
The village is in the process of submitting a written response to the comptroller, which must be done within 90 days.
The audit mostly focuses on problems with lack of segregation of duties and oversight, according to Bogle.
“That’s what the board and I are going to work on this year — making sure there’s proper oversight of the treasurer — and some of these errors won’t happen,” she said.