'Keying mistake' gives 200 Ga. EMTs overtime

A staffer manually input a wrong overtime calculation for EMT-certified firefighters, reinforcing a lack of confidence in the city's ability to correctly pay responders

The Augusta Chronicle

AUGUSTA, Ga. — A “keying mistake” caused more than 200 Augusta firefighters to receive an extra $2,500 to $2,700 on their paychecks this pay period, city officials confirmed.

Human Resources Director Tanika Bryant said the mistake happened in her office, when a staffer was manually inputting an overtime calculation for firefighters who are certified as paramedics or emergency medical technicians.

“It was a mistake, just like any other,” she said. “It was a keying mistake that was made.”

Firefighters’ union vice president Charles Masters said the mistake reinforced the department’s lack of confidence in the city’s ability to pay its firefighters correctly.

“This is typical of the city of Augusta and I didn’t expect anything less when I saw that money,” Masters said.

The keying error occurred as the city was attempting to correct another error, the nonpayment of overtime based on supplemental pay for firefighters certified as EMTs or paramedics, Bryant confirmed.

Bryant said the pay is required by federal law and she’s been attempting to correct the issue since taking over as HR director last year.

Fire department spokeswoman Dee Griffin said only those 214 city firefighters with the EMT or paramedic certification received the inflated paychecks this period.

Augusta Regional Airport spokeswoman Lauren Smith said the airport’s 15 or so firefighters also were affected by the payroll error.

The city is working to correct the mistake, which included having taxes withheld from the wrong amount, and will likely deduct the overpaid amount from the firefighters’ upcoming paychecks, Bryant said.

“That money, depending on how much, just will be taken back over the next couple of pay periods,” she said.

Masters was skeptical the errors would be properly addressed, however.

“I’m not convinced that in all ways they’ll make it right and whole,” he said.

Copyright 2014 The Augusta Chronicle
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