Story citing Nashua salaries included a technical snafu

NASHUA – A database of city employee compensation compiled by The Telegraph included an additional paycheck in the gross earnings of many employees last year.

The city’s payroll department furnished the information used by The Telegraph for the database, which differentiated between employee salaries and total earnings in 2008. The database was used as the basis for a story that ran in the April 5 edition of the newspaper, and is still online in a searchable database.

For employees paid every other week, the gross pay in the database included 27 pay periods, or 54 weeks of pay, but the salary included just 52 weeks, inflating the difference between the two. Similarly, the “gross pay” for employees paid weekly included 53 weeks of pay.

Jim Mealey, chief operating officer for the school district, said this happened because Jan 1, 2009, which would have normally been a payday, was a holiday. City employees were instead paid on Dec. 31, 2008, so that paycheck was incorporated into the 2008 calendar year.

The discrepancy was brought to light after an alderman raised questions during a budget committee’s review of the school department budget Monday night.

Ward 7 Alderman Richard Flynn said that after searching through salaries using The Telegraph’s online database, he wanted to know why it appeared some administrators earned more than their salaries.

At the time, district administrators didn’t know the answer. But Mealey said they were able to come up with the answer the following day.

The difference will be made up when the 2009 calendar year gross earnings are finalized, because the first paycheck of 2009 has already been counted in 2008 and so won’t be included, Mealey said.