NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - News4 Investigates confirmed 110 Metro Parks employees are being told they have to pay back thousands of dollars each in hazard pay from 2020.

In an email to News4 Investigates, Metro Parks spokeswoman Jackie Jones wrote, “Regarding hazard pay, this is an unfortunate situation that directly impacts approximately 110 of some of our hardest working employees. We are working with Metro HR and Finance to recover the overpayment of these federal funds in a manner that will lessen the impact to our employees.”

Jones then referred the question to a Metro Finance spokeswoman.

News4 Investigates learned $267,000 of federal money must now be paid back from the employees who were already paid it.

News4 Investigates reached out to Metro Finance for more explanation about the error. A spokesperson from Finance said it was Parks' employee who incorrectly submitted the amount of hours parks employees were earning hazard pay.

Metro Parks said, in part that "Metro Parks is sensitive to their employees' concerns."

"The notion that we're going to garnish the wages of lower paid, harder working folks of Metro...it's really just tough to swallow," said Metro Councilman Sean Parker.

It is also unclear if the hazard pay is related to COVID-19. Still, families of workers tell News4 Investigates it is related to the virus.

News4 Investigates also received two copies of letters being sent to Metro Parks employees that read employees were overpaid when awarded a recent hazard pay bonus.

One employee will now have to pay back more than $2,000 and another $3,364.

The letter reads that an error occurred that resulted in the overpayment.

That letter also states, “The overpayment of this federally-funded bonus was of no fault of your own. However, it is an error, and unfortunately, you are not enlisted to keep the overpaid amount.”

The letter then goes on to explain that the repayment will be spaced out over 2021.

"This came right before Christmas. A lot of folks probably used money they thought they could count on, and we're heading into what's going to be another tough year for a lot of families and households," said Parker.

Families of Metro Parks employees have reached out to News4 Investigates, stating that their family members’ have already spent the money.

Several councilmembers have told News4 Investigates they will be trying to get answer for these employees on Tuesday.

Mayor John Cooper's office released a statement reading that he wants "a transparent process that explains to these workers why they have to pay this back."

 

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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