Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The City Payroll and the Inconvenient Truth

I’ve been doing a little digging trying to find out what the payroll situation is at City Hall that could have led to some of the problems that they have been having.
First, to define the problem.
In 2008 the City Council voted to give firemen a $400 raise to put them on par with the Police Department. There are Civil Service requirements to consider when calculating these raises.
Louisiana RS 33:1992 says:
  • (1) A fireman shall receive a minimum monthly salary of four hundred dollars per month.
  • (2) Engineers shall receive a minimum monthly salary of not less than ten percent above that of a fireman.
  • (3) Lieutenants shall receive a minimum monthly salary of not less than fifteen percent above that of a fireman.
  • (4) Captains shall receive a minimum monthly salary of not less than twenty-five percent above that of a fireman.
  • (5) Battalion chiefs and district chiefs shall receive a minimum monthly salary of not less than forty percent above that of a fireman.
  • (6) Assistant chiefs and deputy chiefs shall receive a minimum monthly salary of not less than fifty percent above that of a fireman.
The City administration is alleging that former Fire Chief Sammy Halphen ordered the payroll clerk to make the raise $400 across the board for everyone.
Now it would seem that calculating raises and payroll should be the bailiwick of the city’s Finance Director, but apparently the Fire Department has a payroll clerk who does the calculations.
As I understand it, each station keeps a log of each employees time and after it is verified by a ranking fire official, it is turned over to the payroll clerk. She then forwards the information to Finance Director Joe Buffington’s office, where the checks are cut.
I’m not sure of the procedure in the Police Department, but from what I can tell each division turns in the time for their employees. I’m not sure if they actually figure the payroll or not.
This is a huge, screaming gap in the system.
An approved raise is implemented as approved by the council, is incorrectly input into the payroll system, all with no oversight whatsoever.
Payroll is sent to the Finance Director for the checks with no verification or oversight at all.
KPMG comes in regularly and audits, but apparently doesn’t even look at payroll.
Don Williams, David Montgomery and David Jones are expected to be appointed by the council to oversee an independent professional to oversee an accounting of what is actually owed.
Sean Green has a good account of the whole affair in the Bossier Press-Tribune.
The inconvenient truth of the matter is that, whether or not Sammy Halphen incorrectly implemented the raise, there are a lot of people who should have been double checking and making sure that everything was done properly. You know the old saying, when you are pointing a finger, you have three pointing back at yourself.
I think that trying to blame it all on Sammy Halphen is about as phony as Milli-Vanilli.


  1. perfect song.
    Blame it on the rain that was falling, falling
    Blame it on the stars that did shine at night
    Whatever you do don't put the blame on you
    Blame it on the rain yeah yeah

  2. Well now I have another question. Why dont they look at payroll? It seems to me that's where you can hide lots of things.
    I understand mistakes can be made but it seems since Li Walker became mayor huge mistakes keep happening. why? It's not like he became mayor with little experience in government affairs. He was the CAO for 16 years prior to being elected. This is getting beyond riculous.

  3. Don't make Sammy the goat! He ain't done nothing to anyone!

  4. The reason why huge problems started when Lo Walker became mayor is he thought he would do the same thing that was done when George Dement was mayor: he would rely on a trust worthy CAO to assist. But Lo basically turned the henhouse over to a pack of coyotes who have turned the city into a friggin joke.

  5. Jim,

    Little Halpen ran his ship by deceit. He told the council things frequently that where not the truth. Lo and the council may be guilty of not havimg enough oversight or listening to those who sounded the alarm years ago. But at the end.of the day you expect honesty out of your department heads. Sammy started his stint as firechief based on a lie. Perhaps a thread should be started exposing all of Sammies lies.

  6. New to this blog. Who is Jim and who runs this site?

  7. That's an interesting question considering the IP address from whence you came, and the number of visits I get from that address every day. I think you know who runs the site. Pretty much everyone at your IP address knows.

  8. Jim is the most politically educated person and the most ethical person in these parts. You tell'em Jim!!!

  9. Channel 3 says that the city is putting in checks and balances so this won't happen again. Like closing the barn door after the cows are already out.
    Is that an admission that there have been no checks and balances with such a huge payroll?

  10. If more citizens gets involved and informed about what's going on in Bossier City there would be a lot more checks and balances.

  11. BACK ASSWARDS BOSSIER PARISHFebruary 16, 2012 at 8:34 PM


  12. Wasnt sammy the guy who went up to the parish ems thing and accused of all the wrongdoing. Way to go police jury you got scammed and now the sheriff. Im juat curious what little halphen has on all these people. Mayby he is doing private guitar lessons for their kids on the clock like he did in bossier city.

  13. I am certain that the investigation will disclose illegal overtime for police officers also. Not their fault, just bad way to tend to payroll matters.

  14. Okay for all you people who have never handled government payrolls. Regardless of who the mayor is - it is the responsibility of each department head (ie fire chief or police chief or utilities directornetc. ) to sign off on each time & attendance sheet before submitting it for input. The mayor does not review these sheets. The people who input it are nothing but clerks and have no knowledge of who worked when or what their pay is. They do what they are told. So the any firemen/police snafus fall directly on the department heads.

  15. It may fall directly on their heads, but it also falls on the chief executive and the people he appoints to see that things are done correctly.
    Any large organization must have oversight and checks to prevent this sort of thing from happening. That is the larger failure.

  16. True , but if the department heads are intentionally trying to deceive the mayor ( and the public and the city council) then it is difficult to catch before a lot of time goes by. And to have an audit by someone local selected by the 3 witch hunters in residence (don't care what Bubba says in the paper!) who will be someone they want to throw $50,000 worth of business to ... Well, that smells too. While this is a big deal financially that brings to light some oversight issues, it is not in need of an investigation basically just because they can. Bubba could have brought this to the mayor's attention and would have gotten the same results. They acted on it as soon as Bubba tried to ramrod through an "investigation". Thanks goodness cooler, wiser heads like Larkin & Hanisee were able to stand up to him. He (Williams) has made no secret that he intends to run for mayor. The best part of that is he will either be mayor with the shoe on the other foot ( be careful what you wish for!) or even better he will lose and be done because he cannot run for mayor AND a seat on the city council!

  17. 6:25,
    I think Bubba did what he did because this needed immediate attention. Who knows what would have happened had he not. I'm betting it would been felt with as quiet as possible. I'm sure Bubba like the rest of the taxpayers get sick of these politicians telling us how great everything is but everything is not. What gets me is why are you so angry that Bubba made such an issue of this? I mean he WAS right after all.
    What is your beef with Bubba? I use to think the same way but Bubba and David Jones have been the only ones to come on this blog and explain things to the public.

  18. I believe the reason a lot of people in city hall are upset because more people are becoming aware of their shenanigans. The problem is not enough people are aware.

  19. I think people who blame Bubba have the 'kill the messenger' mentality. He did the people of Bossier a favor by bringing it into the open. Good job.

  20. Hey Jim - how about a break from the Bubba love fest and give everyone a link to Marty Carlson's latest column in the Press Tribune. Unlike Sean Green - who seems to only talk to Bubba, Jones & Montgomery - she seems to try and present both sides. She draws some distinctly different conclusions regarding this mess. And it is a mess but many people share the blame including those who were on the City Council that passed the pay raise! As I am new to Bossier, I'm not sure if that includes the above mentioned councilmen.

  21. ""As it appears the Council will initiate an investigation into this issue, perhaps they could include an additional query: How is it that the City Council approved a $400 per firefighter pay raise that couldn’t possibly have been implemented as such without violating state law?"",,,

    Last line of her article. And,, Anon 10:03 said,"And it is a mess but many people share the blame including those who were on the City Council that passed the pay raise!""

    Wasn't that raise the result of a very well orchestrated effort on the forefront of a special election held on a Tuesday that only needed about 800 votes to pass? The firemen and there family votes accumulated enough votes from the public to win that election.

    My memory fades but that is the way I recall.Please correct me if I am wrong.

  22. Marty Carlson wants to know why this issue wasn't brought up sooner. This is my opinion and theory. This may have started under Sammy Halphen but it continued under Brad Zagone. I'm certain he was aware of this issue. He and Shane McWilliams are scared to death if Jimmy Hall. I would bet my life that the issue was brought to Jimmy Hall and he told them to basically drop it or else. That what he does. He makes threats. I'm waiting to see the results. One thing for sure though is Jimmy Hall loves to make threats behind the scenes but you wont hear a peep out him in this investigation. He'll let everyone else take the fall but him.

  23. Okay, this is starting to make more sense to me now. I'm a little fuzzy this morning, but if I'm reading this right it is not possible by Civil Service regs to give an across the board raise to firefighters.

    If a fireman gets a $400 raise, then an Engineer has to get a $440 raise, and a Captain has to have a $500 raise, and an Asst. Chief would have to be paid $600 extra. Am I reading that right?

    So, by Civil Service rules, to grant a $400 pay raise, it would have to be an "average" pay raise, taking the total number of Firefighters, multiplying it by $400, and then calculating the pay differently at each level of rank.

    Is that what I'm reading?

    If so, somebody should have known that at the outset. Which, or how many somebodys, I don't know. But, you'd think it would be common knowledge. A pay raise for Civil Servants is not some new, unmapped continent.

  24. Andy you are dead.on, but if anyone under the halpen erra said anything tjey would be railroaded.

    6:25 let me get this straight your going to praise larkin and hanity, for being the cooler heads? You must have forgotten about larkins little adventures in sports with jane, glover, and 3132. Or how about greenacres place and its problems.

    And as for marty, sorry jim, she drinks from the same coolaid jar as many of the others. I cant hold her opinion as being unbiased.

  25. The council never approved an amendment to the budget. More bs from this site. Just a different flavor of cool aid

  26. What the hell are you talking about, an amendment to the budget? Where did that come from?

  27. Jim, I'm offended! It's H.E.Double Toothpicks.

    Just sayin'...

  28. Something offensive in my comments thread - never!

  29. Sorry Jim, but some of us have tender ears.

  30. Andy, I apologize to your ears. I just didn't know what the hell he was talking about since nothing was said about a budget amendment.

  31. Apology accepted.

    Amendments to budgets are tricky, Jim, so I understand the confusion, and the using of potty-mouthed language.

    We're square now.

  32. Excellent post Jim.


  33. Talking about politics and poor accounting you should check out the Town of Benton. They just paid police officers back overtime pay to them that was owed. They didnt pay them their overtime for years. And as of this last week they cut another check for comp time owed to them. They run off the good and keep the ones that play the game with them.

  34. 7:57, You're seeing the running off the good and keeping the ones who will play the game being played in Bossier City.

  35. No in Benton shouldn't they have to report their violations of state law to the attorney general. Or is it just pushed under the rug.

  36. What they did to Gene Hillen in Benton is typical of Bossier politics. I'll say it again. Anytime you read where an investigation is turned over to schylur Marvin and he makes the decision to arrest someone then there is something fishy about it. I believe you guys have an election coming up for a new mayor unless it's already passed. Good luck to you guys up there. There is more money in Benton now and money make politicians corrupt.

  37. I looked up the word corruptions in the dictionary and there was a picture of Bossier Parish beside the entry.

  38. Jim,

    You will end up with your junk in your hand on this one.

  39. I doubt Jim will end up with his junk in his hand on this.

    As I understand it, his Doctor has advised that he not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds.

  40. Andy, heh!
    7:27 - Give me some details please. Are you saying that the city doesn't owe anything, that this is just a misunderstanding? Serious question, not being sarcastic.

  41. I'm saying someone will be at fault - intentionally breaking the law.

  42. Just do not pay them off by raising more taxes or utility bills. Here is a plan - fire all city workers then hire new ones with lower pay, no health benefits, and no pension.

    That will save Bossier City tax payers millions. If the workers were worth anything they would have been hire by the private sector before getting hired by local government. I mean look at the City Engineers, the City Management and the City Attorneys and Lawyers. When people don't deserved the pay they get they tend to find corrupt and cronies to help pad their wallets.

    We need descent City Workers, not the low class morons or ghetto workers that the city hires now. I use to be a city worker, don't ever get stuck with working with so many blacks and your are one of the only whites. City blacks are racists, and I tested out and moved up out of that situation. I will never be able to look at a Black Person again the same, you don't know what Racism is until you have been targeted by Blacks. Of course I complained but City Management just laughed, apparently whites cannot be the victim of Racism because we have no organization like the NAACP looking out for our civil rights, and if you did you would be labeled a white supremacists. I detest any form of Racism, but it really surprised me that if you work with almost all blacks, you will find that they will be bigoted and hateful against you just because you are white. There is nothing that you can do about it, so these black city workers tend to run off all of the white city worker by making them quit or test out and up to a higher level that is less black.

    If you don't believe me, go to work for the Utilities Department and see for yourself.


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