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September 23, 2010

 

County finalizes early retirement offer

16 employees being offered incentive to save money and consolidate positions

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

Sixteen county employees are being offered early retirement incentives in a move that is projected to break even for the county but will help consolidate jobs, County Administrator Martin Murphy said.
Legislators discussed which employees are being offered the incentive in executive session at Wednesday's Personnel Committee meeting but declined to say which jobs were targeted.
The committee authorized Personnel Director Annette Barber to notify the individuals they can take the retirement incentive.
Legislators deferred all questions to Barber after the meeting.
Barber would not say which jobs were targeted.
The 16 employees will be notified today that they have the option to take the incentive. They have between Oct. 1 and Dec. 29 to retire and can change their minds at any time.
Murphy said the 16 employees were chosen because the positions either show 50 percent salary savings over the next two years or because their jobs can be consolidated and help the county restructure job duties.
"As each budget year comes and goes we are finding that it's more efficient for us to either consolidate positions ... or reclassify positions because not surprisingly we are doing more with less," Murphy said.
At the Aug. 26 session, the county decided to move forward with the early retirement incentives, which were offered by the state to municipalities, counties and schools as a cost-saving measure.
The law had to be passed by Sept. 3.
Employees eligible for the incentive had to be 50 years of age and have at least 10 years of service or be 55 years of age with at least 5 years of service.
Under the plan, employees who choose to retire early would not be penalized by receiving a lower pension, as would ordinarily happen to someone retiring under the age of 55 who has less than 30 years of service.
The county must pay into the system to cover the cost of having to pay full pension costs to those employees.
Originally, 190 eligible county employees were identified, 57 of whom were interested in taking the incentive.
Murphy said some of the targeted employees would not yield salary savings for the county by retiring early because there would not be that much of a salary difference between a new employee who would replace them.
Murphy said the move in the long term should help the county save money, though he said it is not considerable.
It would predominately come from new employees getting less vacation time than the more senior employees they are replacing.
Some positions will be left open and then filled with a lower level employee — called backfilling — some will be backfilled immediately, and some will be consolidated, Murphy said.
"The employees who are eligible and interested in taking an early retirement incentive will be given that opportunity and at the same time we spent a great effort in identifying those positions which facilitate the ... restructuring plan we have for the county," Murphy said.
This is the third time the county has offered the early incentives at the state's prompting: it offered them in 1996 and 2002.
No clear savings were ever identified for the county's previous retirement incentive programs but the manner in which the incentives were offered was different in that individual employees could not be targeted to receive the benefit.
Barber said she will notify the employees immediately and then start processing the retirement paperwork.

 

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