Ohio County Commission President Orphy Klempa Calls Payroll Email Incident ‘Unfortunate’

Photo by Joselyn King Ohio County Commission employee Bruce Teachout works in the commisson’s office in the City-County Building in Wheeling.

WHEELING — Ohio County Commission President Orphy Klempa promises the county will take measures to “fix it” if any county employee’s personal information was compromised due to a payroll error this week.

Payroll statements for all 136 county employees were sent out and received by each employee in a mass email Thursday morning.

The statements were the first sent out on a new software system installed at the start of the year in the county commission office, according to Klempa.

The employees will now receive only their own pay statement by email.

“We accept full responsibility,” Klempa said Friday. “If we have to do further investigation, or if private information gets out, we will fix it. For now, we have fixed the problem. It was very unfortunate. We’ve apologized, but there’s not much more we can do. It’s like a genie in a bottle — once they are sent out, they are out there.”

Klempa said the county opted to change over to the payroll system provided by Sage US at the start of the year.

“We are always trying to find ways to be frugal, and we thought we could save $25,000 a year by doing payroll in house,” he said.

The system is the same that has been used by the Ohio County Development Authority to pay county workers tending to The Highlands development. On Wednesday, a test run was done of the system, which appeared to be running accurately, and employee data was added, according to Klempa.

“They tell me something evidently happened to the parameters (within the programming),” Klempa said.

Employee pay statements are emailed in the morning when there is less traffic on the internet.

“When the employees got up Thursday morning, they saw a copy of everybody’s paycheck information,” he said. “Obviously, knowing we can’t get them back, notices were sent out asking the employees to please delete the information. We have 136 employees, and I believe this information will be contained within these employees. We have a bunch of good employees, and hopefully all went in and deleted the information.”

An emailed message sent out by county Finance Director Rodd Archey told employees, “the original email and its contents should be deleted by all employees without opening.”

“If the email was opened, any persons viewing, printing, discussing, sharing or disseminating this information will face disciplinary actions,” Archey wrote. “It is demanded that this email and its contents be deleted without printing, sharing or discussing. Please accept our apology for any inconvenience this has caused.”

Archey referred all comment about both emails to county Administration Greg Stewart, who did not return messages seeking comment Friday.

Klempa acknowledged the directive not to open the original email would be difficult to enforce.

“It was just a glitch in the system,” he said. “No one would purposely do something like that. Our employees are reliable, honest people.”