El Dorado County seeks $28k in overpay to former HR director

Eric Jaramishian
Mountain Democrat

El Dorado County is seeking reimbursement from a former human resources director after she was mistakenly paid $28,149 for unused sick time on her final paycheck issued April 2, 2021.

County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn said his office didn’t catch the mistake when cutting Tameka Usher’s last paycheck. Usher came on board in July 2017 and left El Dorado County in February 2021 for a human resources job with the city of Rocklin.

Chief Administrative Officer Don Ashton said when a department head resigns before five years of service they are not entitled to any compensation of unused sick leave.

After Usher’s resignation, an administrative technician completed a computation of final wages due form, which was reviewed by a fiscal manager, an agency chief fiscal officer and Usher herself before the payment was processed by the Auditor-Controller’s Office.

“Ultimately, you can blame me,” Harn said. “I want the Board of Supervisors and the public to know about it.

“I’m hoping the county aggressively seeks the reimbursement of this money.”

“The law is very clear — if there is an overpayment on a check to a person, the public sector organization is required to collect that money,” Ashton told the Mountain Democrat.

Ashton said the error was caught by current Human Resources Director Joseph Carruesco, who then notified Harn.

“I think it was simply an oversight by everyone who looked at it,” Ashton said. “It is a big oversight and I don’t want to dismiss that, but it was an oversight.”

The county’s chief financial officer called the former department head on Feb. 23, explaining the situation and requesting reimbursement on behalf

of the taxpayers of El Dorado County. On March 16 Harn sent a letter requesting repayment, according to a press release from the Auditor-Controller’s Office.

“Occasionally, my office denies small reimbursement and pay requests from low paid county employees because the pay requests violate county policies,” Harn states in the press release. “It is very important that the county vigorously pursue reimbursement from this highly compensated former department head. If repayment is not received soon, the Board of Supervisors will need to initiate litigation.”

The human resources director is paid mostly through the county’s General Fund. In 2020 that position’s annual salary was listed at $186,435 ($224,864 with benefits), according to information from the Auditor-Controller’s Office.

The Mountain Democrat reached out to Usher Tuesday morning for comment but had not received a response as of press time.

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