Friday, March 25, 2016 || By Michael Romain
Between 1985 and 1992, the Village of Maywood improperly took social security contributions from the checks of an unverified number of police officers and firefighters even though those municipal employees aren’t covered by social security, various sources and legal documents show.
In 2006, according to a memo drafted by Village Manager Willie Norfleet, Jr., the village returned the money to a number of these officers. But at least a dozen officers, some still working and some retired, have been complaining since at least 2013 that they’ve yet to receive a dime in compensation for the village’s improper withholding of the money.
The total that the village owes to the officers is estimated to be around $110,000, with individual amounts varying by officer, records show.
“The same situation happened sometime around 2004, when Maywood Police Officers and Firemen noticed FICA being taken out of their checks,” notes a statement drafted by a group of Maywood Police officers requesting anonymity.
The group notes that, at the time, under former Village Manager Jason Ervin, the village ended up settling with those police and firemen “and the Village received some money as well from Social Security.”
Alan Segal, an attorney representing the officers and firemen at the time, noted that the village should have checked its payroll to ensure that Social Security, or FICA contributions, were not being withheld from any other workers’ checks.
In August 2014, the officers noted, they were told by a village official that the statute of limitations had run out on the officers who weren’t compensated along with the other employees under Ervin’s watch and that they weren’t eligible to receive the money.
A representative from the Social Security Bureau, however, noted that “all that was left to do was to contact the treasury department to release the funds,” according to the officers’ statement.
The representative, the officers said, told them that the “village was in error to take FICA out of our checks and that he had the exact amounts each Officer owed.”
In 2015, the officers approached Norfleet, who was hired in 2015, with their concerns. Norfleet, according to documents, admitted that the village had been in error and recommended “approval to provide refunds to the Maywood Police Officers who have not received a refund previously for their Social Security Contribution that were taken improperly [sic].”
But since Norfleet’s recommendation, the officers have claimed that Michael Jurusik, the village attorney, has been inexplicably slow in resolving the matter.
In February 2016, Jurusik noted that he would provide village officials with “periodic status reports as more information becomes available” and that his office was “actively working towards a comprehensive resolution of this matter …”
In the interim, Maywood’s Board of Trustees have been waiting for that resolution before authorizing the payments, according to Mayor Edwenna Perkins.
According to a February 2016 memo, Jurusik requested that the employees “who have had social security payments withheld (and should not have) provide me with a copy of his/her social security report that shows each year of social security wage earnings and earned security credits.”
One officer, requesting anonymity, said that those requests have all been submitted, in addition to information Jurusik requested that had already been in the village’s possession.
“I don’t know what the holdup is,” said the officer. “It’s simple. That’s our money and they need to give it back.”
According to sources, the village board met in executive session to talk about the social security withholdings after a March 23 board meeting. Attempts to reach Jurusik and Norfleet for comment were unsuccessful. VFP