Greene County employees say they have no obligation to pay back money county mistakenly overpaid them

Greene County commissioners in their chambers. From left to right: Tom Koogler, Bob Glaser and Dick Gould. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS
Greene County commissioners in their chambers. From left to right: Tom Koogler, Bob Glaser and Dick Gould. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS

Ten Greene County employees who are being sued by the commissioners say in a court filing they have no obligation to pay back what they were overpaid.

The attorney for the 10 employees filed the court response on Jan. 19.

The employees owe a combined $90,000 in wages they were overpaid in the past 11 years because of a withholding error related to Medicare coverage. The employees say they did nothing wrong and this was a mistake made by the county.

The error stems from a state law that says state and local government employees who are hired or rehired after Mar. 31, 1986 must pay into Medicare for future coverage.

The employees in question retired and then were rehired by Greene County after 2007 but the county’s auditor’s office didn’t withhold payment for the Medicare coverage for those employees from 2007 until 2018, according to records obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

At the time, the county auditor’s office didn’t consider these retire-rehires as a break in employment so Medicare contributions were not withheld. IRS rules see retirement as a break in service.

ExploreGreene County could sue 10 employees over back pay, including county prosecutor

The county paid about $200,000 for both the employer and the employee portions of the unpaid Medicare taxes in July 2020. Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson asked the employees to enter into a payment agreement to repay the county in August. None did, so the suit was filed in October.

The county’s lawsuit says the employees were overpaid and not paying the county back is “unjust.” The response filed on behalf of the county employees asks that the county’s claims be dismissed.

Huddleson said the county has no comment on the response.

The attorney for the Greene County employees, John Smith, could not be reached for comment for this story.

The employees the county is seeking reimbursement from include Prosecutor Stephen Haller and Common Pleas Judge Stephen Wolaver. The other employees are Jewel Amburgy, Richard Bowman, Michael Brown, William Harden, Teri Lajeunesse, John La’Rock, Suzanne Schmidt and Terry Swisshelm.

The response denies the claims coming from the county, saying they did not act in a timely manner. The response states the county “did not assert the applicable statute of limitations” to the IRS and payments made outside that statute of limitations were unwarranted.

The lawsuit from the county claims that if the employees don’t pay back the total $90,000, that they will be “unjustly enriched.” The response denies that claim.