by Sarah Curry
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
Buncombe County has offered early retirement to its employees as part of a plan to cut the county’s workforce and bring savings in the county’s budget in the future. Here are the highlights:
Here is the entire article from the Asheville Citizen-Times:
ASHEVILLE – Buncombe County will pay 131 of its employees a year’s salary to retire early as part of an initiative that will trim the county’s workforce and bring savings in the long run.
Employees opting for early retirement will get their salary amount spread over three years in an effort that will eventually save the county more than $1 million, County Manager Wanda Greene said.
The number of employees taking the early retirement option was more than expected, said Greene, who thought a large number would be 80.
Buncombe County entered the transition with about 1,400 employees. Greene said she expects 20-25 positions will not be replaced.
“We still save on the ones that are replaced by bringing them in at a lower point on the pay scale and not incurring longevity-related costs,” she said, adding that the county wants to reduce costs but not cut services.
Commissioners approved an early retirement program for certain county workers in July. The package also offered retirees the chance to stay on the health insurance plan at their employee premium rate until age 65.
“Offering a year’s salary over three years gave us the level of incentive to get the attention of the workforce, and the payments did not require a large payout at one point,” Greene said.
The county tries to give raises and keep pay competitive for all employees, so it doesn’t lose well-trained workers, said David Gantt, chairman of the Board of Commissioners.
He said the early retirement package frees up money and serves as a thank you for their years of service.
“I think it’s a win-win for the taxpayers and the employees,” Gantt said.
The plan also gives people a chance to move up in the organization as they make more money. The county last offered an early retirement plan in 2006, Greene said.
The period to enroll for early retirement ended on Aug. 22, and employees had seven days to change their mind to meet federal requirements, Greene said.
Employees who took the early retirement package will work their last day on or before Sept. 30, Greene said.