Luzerne County administration to seek additional payroll staff if ADP contract rejected

By Jennifer Learn-Andes -
McClosky Houck -

Keep an outside contractor or add staff.

That’s the new alternative presented by Luzerne County’s administration to lawmakers in its push to retain an outside payroll processing contract with human resources management company ADP.

If county council rejects a requested $150,000 budget transfer and proposed contract extension with ADP, the county budget/finance office will be seeking three additional payroll staffers, according to the administration’s agenda submission for Tuesday’s work session.

The three new workers would be needed to handle a payroll conversion project the administration had assigned to ADP, the submission said.

This project would correct a long out-of-sync payroll schedule that prepays 40 percent of the county’s more than 1,400 employees for time they have not yet worked.

ADP also would handle W-2 preparation and allow employees online access to payroll data, freeing up staff, the administration has said. The new workers would be warranted if this work is kept in-house, the agenda said.

“While the conversion is a one-time issue, numerous changes have been made in recent years to payroll, including the Affordable Health Care Act and the December 2017 tax cut bill. This puts an extra responsibility on both the human resource and payroll departments,” the agenda said.

Salaries and benefits for the new employees would cost the county a combined total $141,364 annually, the administration said. A proposed payroll supervisor at a salary of $50,000 would cost $63,980 with benefits. Also proposed are two payroll clerks at $30,000 each — $38,692 with benefits added, the agenda said.

In comparison, the ADP contract would cost the county $101,000 annually — $92,400 to cover 1,400 employees at $5.50 per month, $3,300 to add 50 employees and $5,300 for W-2 preparation, the agenda said.

Councilwoman Linda McClosky Houck, an outspoken critic of the ADP contract, questions the additional staffing option.

“Why would we need to add three new positions to do work we are currently doing and have been doing for many years?”

A council majority had tabled the requested $150,000 budget transfer to fund the ADP contract last month.

Some council members and citizens have questioned the need for the additional expenditure and the administration’s decision to proceed with the contract last June without council approval. The county’s home rule charter said the manager must obtain council approval for contracts or obligations costing $25,000 in any future calendar year for which no budget has been adopted.

The administration has said the project plans were publicly discussed and that the county was not locked into an obligation to keep ADP if the expenditure is not funded by council in 2018.

ADP was paid an initial $175,000 implementation fee last year, officials have said. The company would be paid an estimated $110,000 for subsequent work performed to date if its services are terminated, the agenda said.

An ADP representative is scheduled to attend Tuesday’s work session to answer questions.

The company’s contract is set to expire May 30. This contract provided four additional one-year renewal options. The proposed contract extension presented to council alters the first optional renewal to 18 months, followed by two renewals of one year each and a final renewal of six months.

McClosky Houck Houck

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

If you go

Tuesday’s Luzerne County Council work session follows a 6 p.m. voting meeting at the courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.