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Town Hall Misses Payroll

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On Wednesday afternoon, Interim Town Manager Elaine Lazarus sent an apologetic email to all town employees.

I’m sorry to say that we will be a day delay getting paychecks to all Town employees this week. There were multiple errors in Munis which resulted in Munis deleting our entire payroll file. We are correcting the entries tonight but missed the 4:00 PM wire cutoff for funding. We see this as an unacceptable and critical issue and we will be addressing this with Munis once we have our payroll complete for the week. Please note that this issue does not affect the School Department payroll.

We recognize that this may cause difficulties for some employees, and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your patience.

More than 400 town employees are affected. The School Department is not because they run their own payroll process.

Lazarus placed the blame on Munis, the town’s finance and accounting software. But multiple sources within Town Hall assert that there have been persistent payroll problems since Payroll Manager Rita Ben-Cherqui was hired in January. 

To my knowledge, she hasn’t been able to process a single payroll accurately,” wrote one employee at Town Hall. “Paychecks have been late or lost, and vacation time and disability accrual are totally messed up.” 

I’ll be ok for a couple days, but some employees in town are paycheck to paycheck,” wrote another. “I feel bad for them.

Ben-Cherqui was welcomed by the Select Board on January 30, 2024, introduced by HR Generalist Kristen Merrill. “Rita comes to us with many, many years of payroll experience,” said Merrill. Town Manager Norman Khumalo, who attended the meeting remotely, and was typically effusive in his praise of new hires, this time only offered his recommendation to the board to confirm her appointment.

According to sources, all town employees work under a one-year probationary period, but at the 6-month mark, managers are expected to draft a memo to HR and/or the Town Manager indicating whether the employee meets the expectations of the position. 

As a result of the payroll miss, the town faces the risk that the police and fire unions may file a grievance, as the town is technically in breach of contract. While presumably the situation will have been remedied by that time, and any filing would be symbolic only, it potentially weakens the town’s position in future negotiations.


Editor’s note: Per reader feedback, some information has been redacted from this article.

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