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Some SD Guard soldiers told to return overpayments

RAPID CITY (AP) -- Three Black Hills mayors are upset that some National Guard soldiers have been told to return bonus pay they mistakenly received.

Some members of the 842nd Engineering Company were notified in March that they had been overpaid and were told not to spend the money. They received instructions last month on paying it back.

Lead Mayor Jerry Apa, Spearfish Mayor Dana Boke and Deadwood Mayor Chuck Turbeville are upset about how the matter was handled.

"After more than two months of no communication on the matter many (Guard members) assumed the money was theirs, many began paying bills, making purchases, etc.," they said in a letter to the Rapid City Journal.

The mayors want the Guard to apologize and offer specialized repayment plans to the soldiers rather than offering standard plans that allow for only a handful of options, including immediate full payment or collection of 20 percent of a soldier's paychecks until the money is repaid.

The pay is a bonus for soldiers who do not take an allotted rest period between deployments. In one case, the overpayment amounted to $4,400. The soldier was calculated as being owed for 23 days when the guardsman was only owed for one day.

Maj. Anthony Deiss, a spokesman for the South Dakota National Guard, said he does not know how many soldiers were overpaid. The miscalculation was made in the Guard's local personnel office and was caught by another local office and corrected, he said.

"It's money they're not authorized to have. They're not entitled to it," Deiss said. "We tried to get the word out ahead of time to make sure they don't spend this money."