PORTAGE | The 10 city employees eligible to take the city's early retirement offer have until the end of the week to make the decision.
Human resources consultant Mitch Ripley said offers have been or soon will be made to employees from the city's parks and streets and sanitation departments and within city hall. Employees, 60 and older, are being offered buy-outs consisting of three months' salary and health insurance lump sum payments of $16,800 per year for each year until they reach the age they are eligible to receive Medicare.
As of last week, said Ripley, none of the employees had accepted the buy-outs. He is targeting an Oct. 1 retirement date for those who accept the incentives.
Ripley said the employees offered the buyouts range from 36 years to nine years of service.
He and financial consultant Steve Brady have been working with the employees and helping find answers to questions.
"There are a lot of 'what-ifs, what should I do' type of questions," he said, adding it is not an easy decision for the employees to make.
The plan, which was approved by the City Council, was initiated by Mayor James Snyder in an effort to save money. The city is facing a $1.9 million deficit this year. Snyder has said efforts, including the early retirement offers, changes in the city's trash and recycling collection methods and changes in employee health insurance, are needed to improve the city's financial situation.
The city's Redevelopment Commission has authorized the spending of up to $881,385 for the early retirement incentives. Ripley said that is the cost of the incentives if all 10 employees opt to retire.
Ripley said the city would save $662,000 in salaries and related costs in the first 36 months if all 10 retired. However, he said the real savings would come in health insurance costs. He said he could not comment further on those savings, citing privacy issues.
The savings also are based on not replacing any of the employees who might retire. Ripley said other employees would absorb the retiring employees' workload.
Ripley added that the three Utility Department employees offered the early retirements have accepted the offers. The Utility Services Board approved spending $101,530 in early retirement incentives.