City employees glitter when the Payroll Princess arrives

August 6, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

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Payroll and accounting specialist Maria Lindberg (right) delivers a pay stub to Assistant City Engineer Jed Gonzales July 21. By Tim Pfarr

Newcastle city employees get a little something extra on payday. Twice a month for the past eight years, Payroll & Accounting Specialist Maria Lindberg has put on a tiara and become the Payroll Princess, distributing paychecks and paycheck stubs to her co-workers, and thanking them for working at the city.

“I think every place should have a payroll princess, someone to thank them for working there,” said Lindberg, a former customer service manager for US Bank. She said while with the bank she learned the importance of communicating to employees their value to the company.

“You need to enjoy coming to work,” she said.

When she came to Newcastle in 2001, department heads were responsible for handing out paychecks and stubs, but Lindberg quickly volunteered for the job.

“I said, ‘I can do that,’” she said, and she quickly adopted the title of Payroll Princess. It wasn’t long before Deputy City Clerk Carol McNeilly gave her a tiara to wear while making her rounds.

Former Administrative Assistant Tamara Bell later gave Lindberg a newer, fancier tiara with the words “the princess” on the front.

“Everybody loves it,” Lindberg said. “It really lightens the mood.”

She said given the tight economic conditions that have reduced city staff to 18 full-time employees, letting those employees know how much they are appreciated is more important than ever.

Lindberg said the short staff has forced everyone to handle multiple jobs and wear multiple hats.

“I just happen to have a crown also,” she said with a laugh.

Lindberg also has taken on one other job as the Payroll Princess: initiating new hires with a glitter shower. The city’s newest employee, maintenance worker Josh Lewis, was subjected to this tradition when he received his first paycheck July 21.

He sat unsuspecting at his desk as glitter exploded in the air above his head, and those near him quickly moved away to avoid being part of the collateral damage.

“I’m happy now. I’ve been glittered,” Lewis said with a laugh after his shower, pieces of sparkling glitter sticking to his shirt and pants.

Employees said having the Payroll Princess make her rounds through City Hall twice a month is uplifting.

“She’s the bright spot in everyone’s week when she comes around,” said City Clerk Bob Baker, who has enjoyed having the Payroll Princess around for the more than four years he has been with the city.

Director of Finance Christine Olson, under whom Lindberg works, said having her act as the Payroll Princess makes the office a more positive place.

“It’s wonderful. She has a positive attitude every day.” Olson said. “We really enjoy her a lot.”

Olson was subject to the new-hire glittering her first week on the job several years ago, and she said it came as quite a surprise when it happened.

Only contract employees, such as interim City Manager Rob Wyman, do not receive checks or a glitter shower on payday.

The next employee subject to a glitter shower may be the new city manager, who is slated to be hired as soon as the end of the month.

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