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June 12, 2014

City sends payroll early this time

Source of problem that delayed checks 2 weeks ago not named

TERRE HAUTE — Officials expect city workers to receive their paychecks through direct deposit this morning despite a failure to identify what caused a problem with those payments two weeks ago.

Today is payday for city employees and Leslie Ellis, controller, said the direct deposit files were sent to First Financial Bank before 3 p.m. Wednesday – at least 24 hours sooner than they were sent two weeks ago when the trouble happened.

In the aftermath of the May 30 mishap, which left hundreds of city workers without paychecks until late Friday or Saturday, Mayor Duke Bennett said the city would begin providing direct deposit files to First Financial two days in advance, as opposed to sending the files the day before payday.

Norm Lowery, president and CEO of First Financial, told the Tribune-Star the day of the incident that, in general, it is helpful if the bank receives direct deposit files a couple of days in advance.

On May 29, the city sent its last file to the bank at 3:07 p.m., Ellis told the Tribune-Star two weeks ago. The bank has a 3 p.m. deadline.

This time, however, all “payroll direct deposit files were sent to the bank two days in advance, which puts it there well ahead of their deadline,” Ellis stated in an email to the Tribune-Star Thursday asking about the status of today’s direct deposit payments. “By doing this, we feel this will help to avoid any (non-technology related) possible issues with the direct deposits in the future.”

Asked whether the city had found the source of the May 30 problem, Ellis stated, “No.”

“Our [Information Technology] department has verified that our files were not corrupt and our file transfer was clean,” Ellis stated. “All direct deposits did eventually post at the respective banks. Some occurred the same day or later that same evening, while others went through Saturday or Monday (depending on the bank) confirming that our files were good. Once we send the payroll files, we no longer have any control over the process,” she stated.

Bank officials, contacted late Thursday afternoon, declined comment. Law and bank policy prohibit the bank from commenting about specific customer accounts, Lowery told the Tribune-Star two weeks ago.

In the wake of the May 30 problem, some employees faced overdraft charges. Ellis said those employee’s banks have been “extremely helpful and understanding” and have removed overdraft fees. All overdraft fees brought to the attention of the city were removed, she said. The city is not aware of any other late fees being imposed on employees, she said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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