Nuke salaries rolled back, state goes after overpayments | NevadaAppeal.com
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Nuke salaries rolled back, state goes after overpayments

With the unauthorized salaries at the Nevada Office of Nuclear Projects rolled back to the amounts set by the Legislature, the governor’s office now wants the workers who got the money to pay it back.

Director of Administration Andrew Clinger said those salaries, inflated beyond the authorized cap by more than $30,000 a year in two of the seven cases, were rolled back effective Aug. 25.

According to Clinger, the employees at Nuclear Projects apparently divided up the salary money for a vacant position among themselves.

“Now they’re getting what the Legislature authorized,” he said.

He said that doesn’t account for the overpayments from June 1, 2005 through Aug. 24 of this year. The total overpayments received by those employees during that period was $195,790, with Bob Loux, director of the Nuclear Projects Office, receiving $67,585 of that total.

Two of his deputies each got $28,718 more than they should have, and two others received $22,749 over the amounts approved by the Nevada Legislature for that three-year period.

The sixth staff member was overpaid $18,291 and one position filled just two of the three years got $6,980 more than that worker should have.

If the overpayments had not been discovered because the agency’s salaries account wound up in the red, those individuals would have received more than $136,000 more than authorized this fiscal year as well.

Ben Kieckhefer, spokesman for Gov. Jim Gibbons, said the governor’s office is going through the formal statutory process to have their wages docked until they repay all of the money. That statute calls for the controller to hold hearings and determine exactly how much is owed, whether the employee should be held responsible and how big a payment they can afford.

No hearings have been scheduled yet.

The scheme resulted in Loux’s termination by the Commission on Nuclear Projects, but he remains on the job until a replacement is named. The commission did that because the process of licensing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump is going forward this year.

Loux has managed the state’s fight to block Yucca Mountain since his position was created in the early 1980s.

– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.