Council Members Demand Review Of Pension Process - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Council Members Demand Review Of Pension Process

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By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Metro Council members Megan Barry and Bill Pridemore are demanding action after a NewsChannel 5 investigation.

They sent a letter to the Employee Benefit Board asking for a "thorough" review of the way the Human Resources Department processes all Metro pensions.

It follows a NewsChannel 5 investigation into why a long-time employee never got the money she worked a lifetime to earn.

Mavis Combs retired in 2009, and died after a battle with lung cancer in 2010.

But Metro kept her pension, estimated at nearly $250,000, claiming Combs never filled out the proper paperwork.

"After seeing your report, you feel like there was an injustice there," said councilman Bill Pridemore.

Before he was elected to the Metro Council, Pridmore was a homicide detective, in the Metro Police Department for 25 years.

The secretary in his division was Mavis Combs.

"Her office was right there with us, so naturally we interacted with her each day for very many years," Pridemore said.

But he didn't know, until he saw our story, that neither Combs nor her family got the pension she earned.

Pridemore and Council Member Megan Barry sent a letter to the Benefit Board citing our report, and asking the board to "review the actions that led up to the denial" of Combs pension.

They also want the board to "investigate current procedures used to process" all pensions, and report back to the Metro Council.

"I'd hate to see another family have to go through this," Pridemore said.

Our investigation revealed, that as Combs battled Lung Cancer, Metro demanded a copy of her social security card to process her pension.

But her social security number was in her employee file more than 70 times.

"She's in a wheelchair. She's on oxygen, and she did everything she could," remembers her daughter Vicki Spurlock.

Combs was 72 years old.

Spurlock says the family repeatedly called the Metro employee overseeing Combs' pension, but court documents show those calls were not returned.

Combs died a few weeks later, and Metro kept her pension because it wasn't processed.

"I believe they stole her money. No less than they have stolen her money," Spurlock said.

Our investigation also discovered, the employee overseeing Combs pension was later forced to resign for poor job performance including, not returning calls in a "timely" manner.

"I don't want something like this to ever happen again, that somebody is held up because they didn't have a social security card, and we knew their number for 30 years," said B.R. Hall, an elected member to the Employee Benefit Board.

Hall is thrilled council members are calling for an investigation.

He hopes the review leads to policy changes and to Combs' family getting at least part of her pension.

"I'm hopeful we can do something about this lady here," Hall said.

And Councilman Pridemore agrees, "If there's something we in Metro can do to compensate the Combs family, we'd like to do that."

The family sued Metro but a judge ruled against them last year, saying he could not create a pension benefit where none existed. That decision is now under appeal.

Metro Human Resources sent a statement saying it could not comment because the lawsuit is still in court, however it will help the Benefit Board with its investigation.

Letter From Metro Council Members To The Employee Benefit Board

Email: bhall@newschannel5.com

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