Manatee Co. employees given raise, then told to give it back - WFLA News Channel 8

Manatee Co. employees given raise, then told to give it back

Posted: Updated:
Donny Combs working in Manatee County. Donny Combs working in Manatee County.
Donny Combs working in Manatee County. Donny Combs working in Manatee County.
Donny Combs is a Manatee county landscaper who was given a raise then told to give the money back to the county. Donny Combs is a Manatee county landscaper who was given a raise then told to give the money back to the county.
Donny Combs is a Manatee county landscaper who was given a raise then told to give the money back to the county. Donny Combs is a Manatee county landscaper who was given a raise then told to give the money back to the county.
MANATEE COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A group of Manatee County workers received a well-deserved raise, only to have it taken away.

They were told the county made a mistake. So not only did they lose their raise, they'll have to pay it back.

Donny Combs' office is the great outdoors. He's a landscaper, keeping Manatee County looking neat and trim.

Last year, Combs and his colleagues learned about a county program called ‘the career ladder.' If they completed a list of safety courses and skills training, they would be eligible for a raise!

So Combs and his coworkers jumped at the opportunity."We don't make a lot of money here at the county, so every little bit helps,” said Combs.

Combs completed the training by January, and soon he got a bigger salary and some back pay. Combs earned a raise of nearly one extra dollar an hour."It was a good raise, I was happy with it,” Combs said with a smile.

But last month, he got a message from the county.Combs stated, “They were taking the money back from the raise. So they’re gonna put us back at our original pay, plus we gotta pay back what they gave us.”

A county official told him a mistake was made in the program- the raises were issued prematurely. Combs and his colleagues still had more requirements to meet. Combs thumbed through documents and said, "They say I owe $618.45."

Combs will have to pay back some of the money and give up vacation time.Combs feels helpless. "I don't see that as our mistake. We did everything we could to get ahead, and I can't see how this could possibly be our fault."8 On Your Side wants to know how something like this could happen.So we went straight to the county to find out.

Manatee County spokesman Nick Azzara said, "If the shoe were on the other foot and Manatee county taxpayers found out that employees were given raises for promotions that they hadn't yet earned, we'd be dealing with a different kind of crisis."Azzara said this was an unfortunate error. He said this is taxpayer money that had to be returned. "As a public sector employer, we take it very seriously. These are taxpayer dollars. There's no room for error,” he stated.

He added, “Nobody is happy about that but we think the right decision has been made.”Azzara said if these employees complete the rest of their required objectives, they can get their raises back.“In an era of government transparency and public access to our business, we’ve got to make extra efforts to make the right decision in the best interest of the taxpayers,” said Azzara. “The fallout is these employees are having to pay back money that they haven’t yet earned. And at the end of the day, it’s a difficult decision but I think it’s the right decision to make.”

"I don't think it’s fair for us to pay it back,” exclaimed Combs.Combs is not alone. He said there are more than two dozen employees in the same boat as him; some of them have to pay back more. “I had to do this within a year. I did it within a year. It’s not my fault that they threw a raise onto it, whether or not they were supposed to. It’s not my control,” said Combs.

These employees work hard for their money, and they say it's demoralizing to have it taken away. Some county commissioners said they were not aware of the issue until they were told by 8 On Your Side.

Commissioner Carol Whitmore told us she will look into the problem.

Manatee County has also just hired a new Human Resources director to fill a spot that's been vacant for months.The spokesperson is hopeful that with a new director in place, this mistake won't happen again.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

  • Most Viewed Stories on WFLA.com

  • Web Poll

  • If you were given a raise and then asked to give it back...would you?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Yes
    4%
    2 votes
    Depends on the % given
    0%
    0 votes
    No
    90%
    57 votes
    Undecided
    6%
    4 votes
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.