Government

Linn County owes $52,000 to IPERS after coding error went unnoticed for 10 years

CEDAR RAPIDS — A 10-year-old coding error at the Linn County Auditor’s Office has the county on the hook for nearly $52,000 to the state’s public employee retirement system, IPERS.

On Monday, officials with the auditor’s office detailed to the Linn County Board of Supervisors the 2008 error in which six female corrections officers should have had their Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System classification code changed to jailer. The new code would have resulted in different IPERS payments for the employees and the county.

However, the change did not take place and was not identified until an IPERS audit this year, despite those audits taking place every three years. Now the county is poised to pay IPERS $51,962 to make up for missed county and employee payments.

“This was a mistake,” Supervisor Ben Rogers said Monday. “It is a very uncomfortable position to be put in. The Board of Supervisors didn’t make this mistake, the employees didn’t make this mistake, we don’t have this budgeted, and we have to pay interest.”

Of the approximately $52,000, nearly $19,000 represents payments that should have come from the six employees, but Assistant Linn County Attorney Bob Hruska said it’s his understanding the county is responsible the full shortfall.

“We’re on the hook for the entire amount,” he said, adding that the county can go to those employees to seek their respective payments.

All of the women still are county employees and at least three of them would face more than $5,000 in missed payments.

The board will vote Wednesday on how to address the missed IPERS payments — specifically if the county will seek to reclaim the approximately $19,000 from the employees.

Supervisor Brent Oleson argued that those employees were paid funds that should have been withheld and the county should try to reclaim those missed payments to remain true to taxpayers.

“We could do that over a number of years. I do firmly believe that we should at least do that,” Oleson said.

Supervisors Rogers and Stacey Walker argued otherwise, that this was an auditor’s office error and the county is responsible.

“If the employees aren’t trying to scheme us out of money or game the system somehow and we come to them after the fact and say, ‘Oh, you owe us more money because of a coding error, plus interest,’ I don’t think that’s on them,” Walker said.

Deputy Linn County Auditor Becky Shoop said the office will be looking into ways of preventing future coding errors.

“We definitely own it, we know there was a mistake,” she told the board. “I will contact IPERS and see if there is some special review over and above what they do every two to three years and go through all of our employee coding.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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