N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--July 1998

Spotlight on the DOC Payroll Office

I've been in state government 28 years and the payroll section is one of the hardest working groups of any place I've been. They understand that if there is a new employee and they don't meet their deadline, that person won't have check. They are committed to meeting their deadlines.

--Sam Newman, DOC Controller

Gloria McLamb heads a staff of eight who makes sure all employees get a paycheck on time each month. Gloria, who has worked 28 years for DOC, says she has always enjoyed working with figures.

Gloria makes sure employees who separate from the department are paid properly for that particular month and that they are off the payroll for the next month. If an employee doesn’t work through the end of the month, he or she won’t get a paycheck until the middle of the following month. She says there are lots of people leaving, about 200 a month. "They’ll come and go so quick, stay three days and decide they don’t like it and leave."

Doris Martin is the assistant payroll manager. She does the paperwork for new hires and shift premiums which include overtime, on-call, call back work and holiday pay. "Cross-ups in paperwork can happen when you have 18,000 employees," Martin said. When she started working eight years ago, there were only 9,000 employees and three on the payroll staff.

"I’m fixing to tell you something, and you’ll think I’m crazy, but I like my job, I like what I do." One employee called saying he had washed his paycheck in the washing machine. Doris told him he’d be surprised how many people do that. "That’s what we’re here for," Doris said. "There are a lot of good, hard working people like correctional officers and nurses. I admire them for what they’re doing."

Last month, Shanon Johnson collected $339,667.70 in garnished wages of correction employees. By court order, wages can be garnished for child support payments, student loans, bankruptcy cases, and federal, state and county taxes. Shanon estimates that about half the employees have their wages garnished. In cases of child support, the employee may request garnishment of his wages for proof that he is paying.

"If you owe it, then you need to pay it," Shanon said. "There are a lot of people who deserve that money." Shanon pointed out that some people got their job because of their education they received thanks to student loans.

Shanon enjoys her job so much, "I don’t even dread coming to work," she said. About 65% of her work is making sure the documents she receives are legitimate.

Even though Stephanie Ezell would rather be home with her show horse, Montious Golden Rod, (who reportedly rides like a Cadillac), she enjoys her work in the payroll section. She is the person mortgage companies or banks call when an employee is applying for a bank loan or a mortgage. She verifies salary information. She also records the Blue Cross/Blue Shield dental insurance information, sends copies of W-2 or W-5 forms and check stubs to employees who have lost or misplaced them, and handles the shift premium data for 16 prisons.
Kathie Lefler has been working on the health insurance end of payroll since 1980. Her main job is balancing the bills for 12 HMO’s and half of the state health plan, and she remits the premiums to the insurance companies. She also sends refunds on insurance when a spouse is dropped, bills people who are sick and need to send in premiums, and keeps track of employees who are taking family medical leave or who are on short-term disability.

She makes sure employees who have fallen under the reduction in force act receive insurance for one year.

Willis Morgan is the newest employee to the payroll department, starting in Nov. 1997 after transferring from the Work Release section. He said his job is different all the time, and he really loves his work and everybody in the payroll section.

"You know what your deadlines are, you know what you have to do, and you just get it done," Morgan said. "There’s not a lot of down time." Willis keys into the computer changes in tax forms, pay increases, and changing position numbers. He pays the 500 contractual employees, codes and pays shift premium, and does half of the direct deposit forms.

When the number of employees increased, Michelle Johnson was added to the payroll staff to help process all the enrollments into the state health plan and HMO’s. She has 250 to 300 new hires to process each month. She must keep up with newborns in families and address changes. She also helps balance the insurance bills.
"The retirement form is the happiest form anyone can get, and I like to make people happy," said Stephanie Bias who in addition to retirements, oversees bank mergers and direct deposits. "We’re the last stop before a retirement application is turned over to the retirement system in the State Treasurer’s Office. That’s where a retiree’s check comes from, not DOC payroll."

Bias is a liaison with the State Treasurer’s office and with banks. In her work dealing with bank mergers, Bias said that one bank has had six name changes in three years. "I can’t tell people where to bank, but the state credit union cares about the little people."

"We are very employee-oriented here," Bias said. "We do our best to really make sure we take care of them because oftentimes they are uninformed. By the time employees get to us, they are so frustrated, and we will do everything we can to help."

She gets a large number of calls on payday from employees asking why their check was not in the bank.