Five town unions are reportedly on board with the towns retirement incentive that officials hope will save more than a million dollars and help plug a hole in the budget that otherwise will require layoffs.
In a letter to the Legislative Council, Mayor Scott Jackson says that tentative agreements have been reached with unions representing the Supervisors, Public Works, Library, Parks and Recreation and Dispatchers.
The council is scheduled to take up the proposed incentive at its council committee meetings Monday at 7 p.m. at Thornton Wilder Hall at Miller Memorial Library.
The town needs to come up with $1,208,064 in savings to balance the 2012-13 budget. "If the savings is not fully realized or exceeded, other staff reduction alternatives would need to be considered to ensure that the budget stays solvent," Jackson writes.
Jackson points out what he says are three important points:
- that to participate, employees must qualify for retirement, that it is not an early retirement program;
- that participants choose between a $10,000 check OR buying years of service with their accrued time -- receiving both is not an option,
- and that the agreement does not count toward town service for health insurance purposes.
A number of employees have expressed interest in the program, Jackson said, and others have said they want to wait to see what if any action the Legislative Council takes Monday on it. Tuesday is the deadline to indicate participation.
If not enough employees sign up, Jackson was clear as to what would happen next.
"The alternative to these Retirement Agreements, to meet the negative $1,208,064 in Retirement Incentive/Staff Reduction savings in the FY 13 operating budget would require a layoff of over 45 staff members and there would be no choice but to include guardian personnel," he wrote.
"My intention when I presented the Mayor's proposed budget with the Retirement Incentive proposal was to realize the cash savings we need while avoiding the pain and chaos such a layoff would create, both to our personnel and to our town operations," he wrote. "Additionally, the additional costs for unemployment (which would potentially be carried over the next three fiscal years to satisfy the 99 week unemployment limit) and accrued benefits due to the employees who receive layoff notification make that course less desirable."
Members of his team will be available to meet with council members in executive session during Monday's Legislative Council meeting, the mayor said in the memo.
"The administration is trying to make changes to a retirement plan, again, that are not cost effective, make no good business sense, are hidden from public scrutiny and without the benefit of $170,000+ consultants' recommendations," said former independent mayoral candidate Charles Baltayan, who has been working to get details of the retirement incentive plan for weeks.