By Adam Andrzejewski, OpenTheBooks CEO/Founder
Metro Nashville is paying almost 200 people for part-time work while also paying them monthly pensions, with double-dippers collecting up to $13 million from taxpayers.
According to 2021 pension records provided to OpenTheBooks.com via a Tennessee Public Records Act and Metro 2022 payroll records posted on its website, Metro is paying $5.8 million annually in pensions to almost 200 people who are also being paid to work part time, up to another $7 million.
Metro’s pension records don’t specify what year employees retired, and its payroll records denote what department in which they are currently employed.
There are 987 part time or seasonal employees as of Oct. 5, 2022, according to payroll records posted on the Metro website.
Davidson County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jonathan Adams said employees collecting both a pension and part-time pay are part of a program called STEP, or Start Enjoying your Pension, that allows pension-eligible workers to take their pensions and work up to 19.5 hours/week at their hourly rate.
“The program is a win-win-win for all involved,” Adams said. “The pensioner doesn’t lose their identity and half their salary taking retirement, while the agency keeps the institutional knowledge and continued return on investment for that employee. The taxpayers benefit/save from transferring half the cost of the salary and all benefit cost (which has already been earned/funded) to the pension fund. The STEP program saves our operating budget over five million dollars annually, and is a fantastic use of resources.”
Of the 197 part-time workers collecting pensions, 58 work for the sheriff’s office, collecting an average pension of $22,956 and about $33,774 pay, or $56,730 average total, according to the records.
He said the salary figures listed posted on the Metro website “can be misleading,” because while they show the full-time pay, part-time workers make about half that.
“The payroll records list the full-time salary of the employee at the time of their retirement,” Finance Dept. spokeswoman Kristin Butler told OpenTheBooks.com. “It is the salary used to calculate the hourly rate they are paid for their part-time employment. Metro employees are limited to 19 hours/week if they are also receiving their pension benefits.”
For instance, Metro payroll records show that the highest paid sheriff’s office employee, John F. Taylor, Jr., is making $157,500 as a part-time program coordinator, and collecting $65,388 in annual pension checks, for a total pay of $222,888. In actuality, he’s making about $76,000, while collecting a $65,388, still a hefty total at $141,388.
The second-highest paid in the sheriff’s office is Constance S. Taite, administrative counsel making $120,468 for the part-time work, according to Metro records, and paid $40,056 for a pension, totaling $160,524. In actuality, she’s making $60,234 in pay and $40,056 from her pension, totaling $100,290.
More than half of the double-dippers work for the Metro Nashville Police Department or the sheriff’s office, with others working for the Public Defender’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, Water Services, Parks, Health and Finance departments, among others.
Of the 197 part-time double-dippers, 74 work for the police department, collecting an average pension of $35,352 and $38,602 pay, or $73,954 average total, according to Metro payroll records.
Sixty of the part-time police employees are employed as part-time “technical specialist 2,” each making $82,619 — or $41,309 as part-timers. Terry Lee Miller has the largest pension at $89,220, on top of the pay.
The second highest paid in the police department is another technical specialist 2, Louise Kelton, taking home a $63,624 pension, on top of the part-time pay.
The police department didn’t respond to a request for comment, nor did the mayor’s office.
While three judges are listed as making $195,000 — while collecting pensions of $47,364, $26,484 and $21,732, respectively — they haven’t worked this year, a spokesman said.
Kyle Sowell, court administrator for General Sessions Court, said the three judges “as well as any other former judge we utilize as a substitute judge whenever circumstances require, are all paid by the hour at an hourly rate whenever called upon to serve with the proviso that they cannot work more than 19 hours in any given week.”
“Their hourly rate is calculated based upon the current annualized salary of a full time General Sessions Court judge, and they are only paid for hours actually worked” which was zero hours in 2022.
A Nashville double-dipper recently made the news, as state and Metro auditors are investigating Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk's office after Nashville News Channel 5 reported that the office is employing a man named Michael Brook who appeared not to be actually working,
Metro payroll records show that Brook was making between $113,758 in 2015 and $140,000 in 2020 as a special projects manager/finance director. But after he retired, he returned to the office to work part-time, collecting $75,411 on top of his $83,616 pension, for a total of $159,027.
The DA’s office didn’t respond to our request for comment, and hasn’t refuted the $75,411 figure reported by the news outlet and shown in payroll records.
The news report claims that “Brook had swiped into DA offices just five days in two years, logged into the DA's computer system just four days in 11 months and he hadn't sent a work-related email from his DA's account since Sept. 4, 2021.”
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