The Press Newspaper
Owens Community College interim president Dr. Larry McDougle relies on George Pollauf to pay his mortgage, car payments and grocery bills.
So do the professors in the history, law enforcement administration, psychology, computer science, social sciences, sociology and mathematics departments.
Pollauf is Owens' payroll specialist, and he takes his job very seriously.
"I'm dealing with peoples' livelihood," he said.
Pollauf, who lives in Curtice with his wife, Sandy, and their two daughters, has missed making Owens' payroll just once since 1985.
"Except for this past Friday pay of April 2, I processed almost all of the components — the checks and the deposit files — for literally every pay date I've been here," Pollauf said. "Last Friday would have been my 646th consecutive bi-weekly payroll."
If Pollauf doesn't do OCC's payroll that means someone else has to do it. That doesn't sit well with Pollauf, 51, who on July 1 will celebrate his 25th year at Owens. Ronald Reagan occupied the Oval Office when Pollauf took over as the payroll specialist at what was then known as Owens Technical College.
"When I started in 1985, I paid a little over 600 people, and now I pay over 2,100," Pollauf said. "That's a little over 50,000 checks a year."
Pollauf is responsible for the payroll of every Owens campus employee, from the president to the janitors and everyone in between. His duties include figuring every employee's federal, state, and local income taxes and W2 forms; he also submits earnings reports to respective state teachers and the school employees' retirement system.
"We distribute payroll every two weeks, and up until last week he has had 646 consecutive payrolls," said Brad Meyer, OCC's director of public and media relations. "He is the Cal Ripken of payroll specialists. He is very well-liked, a genuine good guy who is down to earth. If there was something that would take him away, it would be something family related. He's that type of person."
Pollauf, who works in the human resources department, works Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In 2007, he received an Exemplary Employee Award from Owens.
Pollauf had a good reason for needing help to finish the payroll last week. His oldest daughter, Kelley, a sophomore and a percussionist in the Genoa High School marching band, was performing with the band at Disney World in Orlando Fla.
"It was their once-in-every-four-year trip, and they got to march down Main Street at Disney World," Pollauf said. "They were on spring break last week, and for us it was run, run, run. There wasn't much time to actually relax but we still had a good time."
Pollauf has rarely missed an entire day of work in his 25 years at Owens. If he knows he has to miss work, he's good about planning ahead. The week-long trip to Disney World was a good example.
"For the last pay (period), I took care of getting the data entry in before I left on Friday (March 26)," Pollauf said. "One of the ladies in human resources, Barb Rardin (I've been trying to get her and various other people cross-trained in payroll) took care of printing the checks, doing the direct deposit files and printing off the deduction reports. She took care of getting all of those checks requested and mailed out."
There have been several occasions where Pollauf has gone to work when he should have stayed home. The worst incident happened in October 1997, when he suffered a herniated disc.
"I ended up having something slip in my back, and I was scheduled for vacation," Pollauf said. "It worked out that while I was starting to do physical therapy, I found out I didn't have to have surgery. I changed my week of vacation to a week of sick leave, which happened to be a non-payroll week.
"I asked the doctor to release me to work half-days. Owens wouldn't allow me to come back to work unless a doctor allowed me to come back. I worked half days for two subsequent weeks so I could do primary payroll, so somebody else wouldn't have to do it."
"I know how important it is to get people their pay," Pollauf added. "At that time 12 years ago, there was probably somebody here who could have gotten payroll out. But it would be a heck of a lot easier for me to do it than for three or four other people to do it. They would have spent two solid days taking care of what I take care of in a day."
Pollauf and his then-future wife, Sandy, attended Owens Technical College 30 years ago and both majored in accounting. George earned his associate's degree, and Sandy is now a corporate accountant for Danberry Realty.
They have been married 26 years and have two daughters, Kelley, 16, and Emilie, 14.
"Sandy delivered both daughters during non-payroll weeks," Pollauf said. "In hindsight, I should have taken some paternity time off. I took about two or three days off and came back to work. I take (work) seriously, but sometimes to a fault. I have, many times, had my job be number one instead of my family be number one."
Pollauf, who has accumulated 12 months of sick leave, hasn't taken a full sick day in more than four years.
"I've been blessed with good health," said Pollauf, who is one of just 36 employees who have worked for OCC since 1985. "Unless I have a fever, I'll be at work."
Pollauf has other passions, such as working in his yard and professional photography. If he ever left Owens, Pollauf said he would "definitely get back more into my photography."
"I've taken tens of thousands of pictures over my lifetime," he said. "There are Web sites now where you can download and sell pictures online and maybe start earning $3,000 to $4,000 a month."
Pollauf said he is eligible for retirement in a little over three years, but he has no plans to move on just yet.
"Everything has been changing," he said, "but I really enjoy the people I work with. There have been some rough patches in there — a couple times where I was thankful that I got a real good education here — but the time has just really flown by. With everything I have to do, there's no being bored. I can't remember the last time I felt I had the time to wonder, 'what am I going to do next?' "
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