A payroll error could cost the city of Fort Worth nearly a quarter-million dollars.
An audit of the city's payroll system revealed that the city overpaid nine retired firefighters and 11 former city employees for unused vacation and sick time once they were no longer employed by Fort Worth.
In a statement released Wednesday, the city said, "Due to the nature of firefighter shifts, they are compensated for either a 40-hour or a 56-hour work week. The rate of pay and vacation hours are adjusted to equalize compensation between these two schedules. Unfortunately, in these instances, the firefighters were compensated for leave hours associated with a 56-hour scheduled, but at a pay rate associated with a 40-hour schedule. The cumulative impact is approximately $244,000."
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The city wants the retirees to pay the money back. According to the Fort Worth Firefighters Association the city also wants to recoup the excess compensation from the widow of a retired firefighter.
"It's the city's error, and these retirees, it's not their fault," said Michael Glynn, a vice president with the firefighters' association. "We've been bringing this up at several meetings. We've brought up the past several years. The city needs to correct it's payroll system."
The city was alerted to the problem in December. On Thursday city leaders revealed that an additional 11 former employees were also overpaid by $7,500 collectively.
The city began using the system in 2010. Six years later, Glynn said, firefighters still have trouble reading their pay stubs.
"We can't read the checks. Your hours, time, your hourly rate doesn't always add up to your gross income," Glynn said.
The city said it is "working with the software vendor to evaluate the solution and has implemented a manual review process for all firefighter terminal leave."
"In addition, the city has contacted affected firefighters to make arrangements for reimbursement to the city for the overpayments," the statement continued.