Travis County Commissioners Court today approved a transfer of $44,420 to compensate tax office staff for overtime hours and to pay temporary employees.
The action follows an initial $78,432 provided to the tax office on May 29–of which $45,932 was allocated for overtime costs and $17,500 for contracted employees–to address the absence of 19 staff members placed on administrative leave and the closing of all four satellite offices, due to an investigation into fraudulent motor vehicle transactions.
Multiple tax office employees were arrested May 18 on suspicion of fraudulent activities. Nine employees have returned to their positions, and ten will not be returning to the tax office, leaving a shortage of staff and a skyrocketing demand for services at the main tax office.
In the first two weeks of June, the tax office paid its employees a total of $14,345 in overtime expenses, according to county documents. Additionally, the office spent $19,692 on contracted temporary employees between June 5 and June 21, exceeding projections made in May.
According to court documents, the accrual of overtime hours and reliance on contracted help is projected to continue throughout the month of July. In light of these estimates, the county has provided $107,852 to the tax office for extra compensation to date.
“During the first two weeks of June, we incurred over 550 hours of overtime/extra hours caused by the marked increase in traffic and wait times at the main office,” Tax Assessor Collector Bruce Elfant wrote in a statement. “There is no indication this condition will change through July when the tax office hopes to re-open at least one satellite office.”
The tax office will continue to monitor overtime expenditures to determine if another transfer is necessary for August or September, according to Elfant.