Sunshine list unearths over-payments in South Dundas

MORRISBURG – A payroll miscalculation in 2021 resulted in all salaried employees at the Municipality of South Dundas being overpaid one biweekly pay period.

“Every 11 years there is an extra pay period in the calendar due to leap years,” South Dundas CAO Shannon Geraghty told The Leader. “We should have divided the 2021 salaries by 27 weeks instead of 26.”

Geraghty said the payroll issue was identified when the municipality generated T4 forms for staff for the 2021 income tax year. He said that 14-15 staff are affected by the payroll issue. Hourly employees are not affected. Employees at South Dundas are paid biweekly.

Once the problem was identified, Geraghty said the municipality contacted the Treasury Board to correct the numbers but board officials denied the revision.

Further issues were identified when staff tried to correct the over-payment issue when issuing a press release March 29. The revised numbers were retracted less than one hour later. Geraghty said the municipality contacted the Canada Revenue Agency to ensure that the right deductions and procedures are made for the corrections. The municipality will be working with affected employees to claw back the additional pay. Geraghty said there is no negative effect to taxpayers and that staff have put in place procedures to avoid the error in the future.

The 2021 edition of the province’s Sunshine List included six South Dundas employees, an increase from four in 2020. A payroll issue was identified by municipal staff, which resulted in inaccurate reporting to the Treasury Board. The revised salary and benefit amounts have not been released by the municipality.

Earners who made the list include former Director of Environmental Services Danielle Watson (Ward). She left her role with South Dundas in mid-May 2021.

CAO Shannon Geraghty, Director of Fire and Emergency Services Cameron Morehouse, Treasurer Sarah McMillan, Supervisor of Water and Wastewater Denis Villeneuve, and Director of Transportation Services Jeff Hyndman are on the 2021 list.

The Leader will report the correct updated South Dundas amounts once released by the municipality.

The Sunshine List was established 26 years ago by then-Premier Mike Harris. At the time, the threshold for reporting was set at $100,000 and 4,250 employees were listed. The list has never been indexed for inflation. Government officials cite the need for year-over-year comparisons as the reason. More than 255,000 people were on the Sunshine List in 2021. If indexed for 26 years of inflation, the $100,000 benchmark would be $165,730 in 2021.

More on this story is published in the March 30, 2022 print edition of The Leader.

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