It appears that the early retirement plan offered up by city officials as a way to cut down on the number of potential lay-offs at City Hall is getting strong interest from employees.
A recent survey, unveiled at the City Council meeting thsi week, indicates that nearly half the number of employees that officials said would be needed to take part in the early retirement program to avoid significant lay-offs plan to do so.
The city needs about 150 employees to retire early in order to impact a $15.4-million deficit. Of roughly 140 survey respondents, about 70 said they planned to retire early, while the rest said they were “strongly considering” it, according to a city report.
“We anticipate broad acceptance of this plan,” Human Resources Director
said at a City Council meeting Tuesday.
The more employees who retire, the fewer may be laid off. Employees must be 50 years old and have worked for the city for five years to take advantage of the incentive.
Early retirees will receive an annuity equivalent to 5% of their base salary, which can either be distributed in monthly payments throughout their lifetime or in fixed-pay allowances based on five- to 15-year increments, according to a city report.
“I’m in favor of this,” said Mayor Frank Quintero. “I think it makes sense.”
Employees were able to start enrolling in the program on Wednesday. The enrollment period will last through July 6, with employees retiring by Sept. 1.
After retirements go through, the city will be able to refill just 20% of those vacated positions — an indefinite move that city officials imposed to retain the cost savings.
The city cut several programs last year in order to close an $18-million budget gap, leaving little to slash except personnel this time around.