Texas city to sue firefighters who were overpaid by $92K

The payments were compensation for unused vacation, holiday and sick leave that workers were provided when they retired or left their jobs


By Sandra Baker
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FORT WORTH, Texas — The City Council on Tuesday night is expected to approve taking two former Fort Worth firefighters to court in an attempt to recover more than $92,400 they were overpaid when they left their jobs.

The payments were compensation for unused vacation, holiday and sick leave that workers were provided when they retired or left their jobs.

City officials are asking the council for approval to file suit against Fernando Gonzalez, who left the department and owes $63,725, and Kenneth Nealy, who retired from the department and owes $28,742. Both left the fire department in August 2013.

A year ago, an internal audit discovered that 20 employees were overpaid more than $250,000 because of problems with a new payroll computer system the city switched to five years earlier and human error. The bulk of the money, $244,730, was paid to nine firefighters who left the department in 2013 and 2015, according the audit.

Susan Alanis, an assistant city manager, said the two employees were “notified repeatedly” that if they did not set up a payment plan or pay back the money in full, the city would pursue litigation. By going to court, the men will be sued for the entire overpayment amount, she said.

In other cases, the city only sought about 75 percent of the money owed to account for the taxes that had been paid.

“Certainly, we’re open to reaching an amicable settlement,” she said.

Of the remaining seven, five firefighters have set up repayment plans, Alanis said. One of the firefighters is deceased and another is incarcerated, she said.

Eleven employees in other departments who were overpaid a total of about $7,000 have already repaid the city, she said.

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All Rights Reserved

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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