By Ted AYALA
City Council on Tuesday voted to approve the use of early retirement benefits to help curb the pain of having to effect lay offs on the city workforce. The lay offs, which have come as a result of the continued recession and shrinking city revenues, are set to begin in June before the start of the new fiscal year.
“The most strategic way we can make these cuts is to do so by accelerated attrition,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa.
The plan approved, which had been devised by Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS), would offer eligible employees an annuity of 5% on their current base salary and would be paid monthly throughout the employee’s lifetime. PARS would immediately reach out to eligible employees by way of a direct mailing. Orientation and counseling would also be provided.
“There as many as 14 different options for employees to consider when choosing this plan,” said the city’s director of Human Resources Matt Doyle. “Those excluded from this plan would be executives, sworn police officers and fire fighters, GWP yard employees, and several civilian employees of our police department.”
“We expect broad acceptance of this plan,” he added.
A window from May 30 to July 6 – a period of about five weeks – l would be given to the employee in order to commit themselves to the plan. After which the city would require the employee to retire by no later than Aug. 31 of this year.
“Our objective in this program is to fill in no more than one out of five vacated positions,” said Doyle. “Essentially 20%. At this point, according to the PARS report, we would begin to break even as far as saving money if we filled in 75% of those positions. We want to go lower than that.”
A few members of the public disagreed with PARS’ findings.
“I think when you give these kind of incentives you lose your best employees,” said Herbert Molano. “You lose your most experienced employees. Is that what you really want to do? You’re basically giving an incentive to your employees that are the most highly skilled to take that money and move someplace else.”
“I’m in favor of this,” said Mayor Frank Quintero. “It’ll help us get to a more efficient delivery of city services, be of minimal cost to the city, and pose a minimal disruption.”