Two of Baltimore County's most senior civil service employees have decided to retire this month, while the county is offering incentives for early retirement to trim its payroll.
The county has been forced to find new ways to pare spending, like the early-retirement plan, to cope with a budget crunch caused by state cuts, the recession and a decision by County Executive Roger B. Hayden not to raise taxes.
James E. Dyer, 63, supervisor of the zoning office, came to work for the county in 1952, and Joanne S. Deitz, 61, chief of purchasing, took her first county job in 1960.
Deitz started as a secretary and worked her way up to her current job as the person in charge of all county government purchasing, which she has held since 1982. She is married to Austin Deitz, former county fire chief.
Dyer began work as an aide in land acquisition, and has supervised the zoning office for the past 15 years. He also served as a deputy county zoning commissioner, an appointed post, from 1970 to 1974.
"It's a tough decision to make," Dyer said of retirement, "but I would have had to make it eventually. I didn't plan to spend my whole life working."
Both he and Deitz said they plan to play much more golf this spring.
So far, more than 150 county employees have signed up for the early-retirement plan.
For workers with at least 25 years of service who retire by Jan. 31, the county is offering to guarantee that they won't have to pay more than 10 percent of their health insurance costs in retirement. Also, the county is paying a one-time bonus equal to 5 percent of annual salary.
Dyer and Deitz are the latest key county administrators to take advantage of the plan.
Henry W. Stewart, 46, deputy jail administrator, announced in December he will be leaving Jan. 31. He is in charge of 120 work-release prisoners, 105 female inmates, 150 minimum-security inmates and 60 to 100 inmates in a home-arrest program. He has been with the county 25 years.
Last week, Carroll C. McComas, 57, county personnel director and a county employee for 28 years, announced he will take the early-retirement plan and leave late this month. McComas has been personnel director for two years.
Deputy finance director William Laudeman and retirement systems expert Betty Howard also have decided to retire.