County Ready To Offer Retirement Plan

Council To Get Bill Granting Extra Vacation In '93

December 15, 1991|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

County government is expected to offer a retirement incentive plan tomorrow to 125 employees age 40 to 76.

It also will send the County

Council a bill that would give 1,600 furloughed employees extra days of paid vacation in fiscal 1993 and reduce to four the number of unpaid furlough days for workers earning $20,440-a-year or less.

The retirement plan, which is voluntary and must be approved by the council, would offer a 20 percent salary bonus to any employee retiringFeb. 1 or earlier. The county also would pay its portion of the employees' health insurance until July 1, 1993.

If adopted by the council tomorrow night as expected, the plan would not help reduce the county's mounting deficit this fiscal year, but could have "significant" benefits in the future, said county personnel director Joanne T. Nelson.

The county could recover those benefits by leaving the positions unfilled or by hiring entry-level workers, Nelson said. Entry-level workers would earn about $10,000-a-year less than retirees, she said.

On average, employees accepting the early retirement offer would be paid an $8,500 bonus, receive $1,700 in health benefits for fiscal 1992, and be paid $6,800 for vacation time they have accrued, Nelson said. In fiscal 1993, the county would pay health benefits of about $4,400 per retired employee, she said.

Historically, a maximumof 10 percent of the employees eligible take such plans when they are of fered, Nelson said, although the recession may lower that percentage.

Nelson said one person indicated she will definitely take the retirement offer and "six or seven others" have inquired about the package. The county has no mandatory retirement policy.

Employees are governed by three separate retirement plans, one county and two state. Police and fire employees are in a county plan and may retire after 25 years, regardless of age. Those willing to take reduced benefits can retire after 20.

Employees covered by a state retirement system phased out several years ago can retire at age 60 or after 30 years service. Those willing to take reduced benefits can retire after25 years.

Employees in the state pension system -- the successor to the state retirement system -- can retire at any age if they have 30 years service. They can retire with reduced benefits if they are at least 55 and have 15 years service.

The extra vacation days -- three-fifths of a day for every day furloughed -- and the reduction inthe number of furlough days for the county's lowest-paid employees came about through negotiations between the County Council and the administration last Thursday.

According to the agreement, the lowest-paid employees will receive Jan. 20 as a paid holiday. The rest of the county will not. The other unpaid furlough days are Dec. 26, 27, 30and 31. The county expects the furlough plan to save $1 million.

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