Controversy erupts over how to pay county employees

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County employees belonging to the Civil Service Employees Union settled their most recent contract agreeing to a lump sum payment of $1,000. How the payment is to be made resulted in a cyber war of words last Friday.

The employees who are to receive the additional payment are under the assumption that it is a payroll adjustment to compensate for the lack of a raise during the year or more that they worked without a contract.

Oswego County’s CSEA union president Bill Reed and county officials were in disagreement as to how to distribute the payment.

That led to an e-mail exchange that involved employees.

At issue is whether the payment should be made a bonus or treated as additional pay.

There is a stark difference in the amount the employees will receive under the Internal Revenue Service tax code.

If treated as a bonus, the employees would receive $577 after taxes. If paid as additional salary, the payment would be subject to only regular deductions.

In response to a string of e-mails, County Treasurer John Kruk wrote, “As County Treasurer, it is my responsibility to ensure that Payroll and all related deductions are paid according to State and Federal Law.”

He added, “I have attached Section 31.3402 of the Internal Revenue Code which states how the $1,000 Supplemental Wage check on January 17th to CSEA CO-OP Union Members should be handled. These deductions were outlined in a letter to the Union on October 9, 2012 offering an alternative option to include the $1,000 payment in your normal payroll check which would result in deductions at your normal rate.”

Kruk said the treasurer’s office would be glad to change the $1,000 payment to be included in the regular check if Reed so advised.

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