Lawmakers give National Guard soldiers reprieve after WBTV investigation

Soldiers had been told to re-pay money from Hurricane Matthew

Lawmakers give National Guard soldiers reprieve after WBTV investigation

RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Legislation passed by the North Carolina General Assembly on Monday to help fund the recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael included a provision that would prevent soldiers in the North Carolina National Guard from having to repay money they were accidentally overpaid for responding to Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Roughly 1,100 soldiers were paid the incorrect daily rate while being activated in October 2016 to respond to flooding from Matthew, according to an audit released by the North Carolina State Auditor earlier this year.

A spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety--the state agency that includes the North Carolina National Guard--has told WBTV the over-payment was the result of an administrative error when processing the payroll.

In September, weeks before Hurricane Florence hit, those soldiers who were overpaid received a letter from NCDPS saying they must pay the overage amount back by October.

At the time, NCDPS said state law prohibited the agency from forgiving any over-payment made by the state.

But language included in the disaster funding bill passed by the General Assembly on Monday allows the agency to forgive the over-payment amounts for the National Guard soldiers.

In total, the bipartisan bill put forth nearly $800 million to fund disaster recovery.

Republican leaders in the legislature and Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, applauded the bill’s passage.

A statement from Cooper’s office late Monday night said he would sign the bill into law soon.

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