City staff yesterday disputed a finding in the 2009 auditor general’s report that identifies an “abnormally high error rate” of 56 per cent in the city’s payroll processes, based on a sample of 100 files.

According to the report, seven of the errors were math mistakes, 34 involved improper documentation, like time sheets not being signed or authorized, and 15 involved misinterpretations of pensionable earnings that resulted in an estimated $2.6 million underpayment to the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS).

City treasurer Marian Simulik said many of the problems have been corrected since the audit began. She also argued that none of the 34 documentation errors resulted in inaccurate pay, the pension problems were caused by changing rules, and the math errors represented only $2,761 out of $200,000 in employee pay, or 1.4 per cent.

The AG also noted one case of an employee holding two jobs with the city and raised concerns about access to sensitive information by payroll staff.

Other findings:

• Four people hired by the city’s Revenue Branch had family ties to the department, and two did not have the basic requirements of the job.

• Some building inspections were carried out by unqualified students, some building approvals were granted without plumbing inspections, and fees for re-inspections were imposed inconsistently.

• Poor communication between city management and council was largely to blame for a more than 150 per cent increase for the SmartBus Next Stop Announcement System and SmartCard system to about $17 million from $6.7 million.