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Dallas County Auditor May Face Probe After Months of Problems With New Pay Software

The county has struggled for more than two months with ongoing technical issues to pay all of its vendors and 6,800 employees.

Judges are asking county commissioners to pay for an outside investigation of the Dallas County Auditor’s Office as a botched software rollout for the county’s finances continues to leave hundreds of employees shortchanged on their paychecks and vendor invoices unpaid.

Dallas County has struggled for more than two months with serious ongoing technical issues to correctly pay all of its vendors and 6,800 employees.

Dallas’ district judges appoint the county auditor. They sent a letter on July 19 to the commissioners noting the judges are tasked with “determining the competence of the auditor, which is now in question.” The letter asked commissioners to approve the hiring of an independent investigator and a consultant to look into problems with the new system.

County Auditor Darryl Thomas was appointed in 2015 to lead the office tasked with preparing financial reports, budgetary oversight and overseeing the county’s payroll. Thomas said he has not received a copy of the letter and said his staff and installation consultants are working to address the issues with the new payroll software application.

“Much to my disappointment, I was hopeful that the launch of this new application would not have resulted in the various and sundry challenges (especially payroll),” he said in an email.

Dallas County Judge Clay Lewis Jenkins said in an interview that commissioners are expected to vote on the requests at their next scheduled meeting Tuesday.

“Normally, in an emergency when we’re having trouble, we don’t do the full after-action report in the middle of things,” the judge said. “I’m not opposed to anything. I will listen to everybody.”

But Lewis Jenkins said he is confident the court will approve the request to bring in a consultant to resolve payroll problems as soon as possible.

“I do think it’s critical that we get supplemental people in there to get the help that we need to get this fixed,” he said.

Attorneys, court reporters, expert witnesses, sheriff department deputies, jail guards and early election poll workers have all said in recent months that there have been issues with paychecks. Employees and contractors have complained of shorted pay and hours missing from their paid time off banks.

There have also been discrepancies in payments for child support, association dues and retirement plans — all contributions that employees say should be deducted before they receive their paycheck and sent by the county.

“It is alleged that these issues are ongoing with the auditor’s office and are not being resolved in a timely manner,” the district court judges said in the letter.

It has also become clear that vendors have not been adequately compensated for contracted work, Lewis Jenkins said.

“Time is of the essence as failure to be paid has immediate consequences on employees, businesses, practicing attorneys as well as the potential to expose Dallas County to future litigation,” the letter said.

County employees have already filed a complaint about the pay issues with the Labor Department, which has launched an investigation.

©2023 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.