Line forms for early retirement

At least 100 Glendale employees are interested in taking advantage of an early-retirement option aimed at closing a $15.4-million budget shortfall, city officials and union representatives said Wednesday.

Glendale needs about 150 people — 8% of its workforce — to retire to minimize layoffs, which officials have said would cause chaos at City Hall.

About 100 employees from the general city employees union and dozens of managers are evaluating the option, union representatives said.

“The response has been fairly good as far as folks being interested in taking the option,” said Glendale City Employees' Assn. President Craig Hinckley.

City Council members also are supportive of the move.

“If we feel we can do more with less, that's the primary goal,” said Councilwoman Laura Friedman.

This is the first time in recent memory that Glendale has had to reduce its 1,873-person workforce in such a sweeping way.

Without the large number of retirements, Glendale may need to lay off 210 employees — a worst-case scenario, officials said. More retirements would mean fewer layoffs.

“Depending on how many people take the incentive to retire, at that point, we will know where we stand — whether we have to do a hatchet job or delicate surgery,” said Councilman Rafi Manoukian.

During budget meetings last year, the council closed an $18-million shortfall primarily by cutting programs. Now, a $15.4-million deficit for fiscal year 2012-13 must be balanced by going a step further: shrinking the number of personnel, officials said.

There are 388 employees eligible for the early-retirement option, which is open to those who are at least 50 years old and have worked for the city for at least five years.

In addition to regular retirement benefits, eligible employees could get one-twelfth of 5% of their final salary on a monthly basis, a lump sum, or larger monthly payments over several years, said city spokesman Tom Lorenz. That means an employee who makes $60,000 annually could get an additional $250 monthly through their retirement.

Those who have worked for the city the longest will benefit the most, as core retirement benefits increase with years served.

“I think it's a good idea because it will reduce the payroll,” said Mayor Frank Quintero. “We will not be in the kind of financial difficulty we're in now.”

But employees will have a larger workload, said Glendale Management Assn. President David Cole.

“We are looking at this as a challenge,” Cole said in an email. “It will be our goal to always perform to our absolute best.”

In addition to the retirements, city officials want to update civil service rules that govern how employees get promoted, fired or disciplined.

“We need to look at a more modern approach to our workforce practices,” Quintero said.

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