The City of McComb has hired an accounting firm to handle time-keeping and payroll services that up to now have been performed by a city employee.

The T.E. Lott accounting firm of Columbus will soon install time clocks in all city facilities. Currently time clocks are used in some offices, while in others employees sign in and out of work.

The new time clocks will require both a fingerprint scan and a PIN code.

The firm will also process paychecks and generate tax forms for the city, and end-of-year tax statements for employees.

The city will pay $5,060 for 11 new time clocks. And after a one-time $550 set-up fee, it will pay T.E. Lott $1,248.80 per month.

Lott already conducts quarterly audits of the city’s internal controls, including the handling of money. The firm was hired in the wake of a 2015 scandal involving the embezzlement of more than $1 million by a city court clerk.

During discussion of the matter at last week’s city board meeting, Selectman Ronnie Brock asked if the work could instead be done by a city employee. Interim city administrator Joseph Parker responded, “If you decide not to go with this company, we’ll have to move forward a different way, for sure.”

Selectman Donovan Hill asked whether outsourcing the payroll function would result in the loss of a city job.

“That’s a good possibility ... Of course, I’m not (the) personnel (department),” Mayor Whitney Rawlings said.

Hill noted that in an earlier meeting, when Lott first proposed taking over the payroll function, he had asked the same question about the elimination of a staff position of a city job. At the time, Parker told him it would not.

On Tuesday, the discussion centered around a fine point of language. Parker said hiring Lott would not result in the elimination of a job currently filled, while Hill was asking about the filling of a previous job slot that had become vacant.

In response to a question from Hill, Parker said a payroll clerk’s pay was $36,000 per year.

Hill asserted that despite the savings involved in not hiring a new payroll clerk, there are other benefits to keeping the position.

“There are citizens out there who need jobs, and I don’t think it would be a good idea to eliminate positions,” he said.

Emerging from the board’s discussion was the news that a former payroll clerk had been fired, and it was her position that would not be filled.

Brock asked about the outsourcing of other jobs.

“Who’s going to be next? Ms. Janice’s job? Where will it end?” Janice Dillon is the city’s finance director.

Rawlings replied, “I can’t answer that.”

Eubanks, Hill and Brock opposed the action, while Selectmen Tullos, Cameron and McKenzie supported it. Rawlings broke the tie in favor of outsourcing the work.

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