Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 30° Cloudy
News >  Spokane

Panel clears assessor’s employee of leave complaint

Co-worker alleged false reporting of work time

An assessor’s office employee’s complaint that a co-worker took unreported leave was unfounded, according to a report The Spokesman-Review obtained Tuesday.

The report, released under a public disclosure request, documents an investigation by a committee of Spokane County officials from outside the assessor’s office.

Names were blacked out in the copy released to the newspaper, but Assessor Ralph Baker confirmed the complaint involved two appraisal supervisors, Barbara Kent and Karen Reisenauer, who were demoted to appraisers in May because of budget cuts.

Kent subsequently took early retirement under a countywide program that offered a $20,000 incentive.

Reisenauer was the object of a previous complaint in which former appraiser Debi Mason accused her of fraudulently failing to add new construction to the tax rolls and working a second job on county time.

An investigation – criticized for its reliance on research by appraisal supervisor Byron Hodgson – concluded Mason’s charges were unfounded.

Kent’s new charge sprang from documents she said were left on her desk anonymously.

Committee members concluded Kent’s complaint resulted from an incomplete comparison of frequently inaccurate computer records that were never meant to be compared.

The records came from an electronic time sheet program called TimeSoft and an electronic whiteboard, called Scotland Yard, that assessor’s employees use to tell one another where they are.

Within work groups, employees can check each other’s reports in both programs.

Dalton said she and Carol McVicker, a now-retired senior analyst in the Human Resources Department, found that Scotland Yard entries were often incomplete.

A test study of 14 employees’ Scotland Yard entries in August 2009 found only 86 percent were correct or “reasonably so.” Only one employee got it right almost all the time, the study found.

Speaking for the committee, Auditor Vicky Dalton said the complaint was based on just a few days’ records in a 16-month period: January 2009 through April this year. Dalton said she examined all the records.

The report says the broader comparison suggests Reisenauer actually worked 14 hours and 15 minutes without pay. However, Reisenauer won’t be paid for those hours because informal Scotland Yard tallies don’t trump formal reports in TimeSoft.

Errors in Reisenauer’s TimeSoft reports “are consistent with those observed in other employees, the report says.

The full committee adopted four recommendations proposed by Dalton and McVicker: Explain to employees that the two programs have different purposes, provide clear policies and manuals, train employees and have supervisors “maintain better oversight of attendance.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.