The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 30, 2013

Ashtabula explores ways to encourage older employees to retire

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — As February approaches, city officials are looking for ways to encourage older employees to retire so they don’t have to lay off younger employees.  

City Auditor Dana Pinkert said City Council is looking at two options for employees in three departments (Public Works, Sanitation and at the Wastewater Treatment Plant):

n Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and

n $100,000 in cash incentives

City Manager Jim Timonere wants to use $100,000 for cash incentives to employees who are ready to retire to take an early severance plan. The offer would be on a first-come, first-serve basis and would cover about five employees, Pinkert said.

Timonere asked for council’s approval for legislation to have the money, which would come from revenue projections for 2013, Pinkert said.

There are 17 employees in those three departments who are eligible to retire, she said.

City Solicitor Michael Franklin suggested the employees must retire by June 1 with notice given by April 1.

The other option is for the city to buy time towards the employee’s retirement with Ohio PERS. For example, if the employee has 28 years in with the city, the city could ‘buy’ two years and the employee would retire with 30 years, when in actuality, they only worked 28.

“This is more expensive for the city,” Pinkert said. “We would have to fund this incentive through a loan.”

Monday night, City Council gave approval for city treasurer Lori Mackey to go to a bond counsel for $2,500, about the matter.

Pinkert said there are a lot of variables to look at and it gets quite convoluted. Each case, each employee’s retirement will have to be looked at individually, she said.

 City Council will discuss the early retirement buy-outs and related matters at its next meeting, slated for 7 p.m. Feb. 4.