Early retirement for Augusta city workers discussed

The pot could be sweetened to encourage Augusta-Richmond County employees to take early retirement, potentially saving taxpayers an estimated $2 million.

A committee of Augusta commissioners discussed the proposal Monday. It failed to move out of committee, but it will be brought back once commissioners' concerns are adequately addressed.

Director of Human Resources Rod Powell said an early retirement incentive program could reduce the costs of running the city's government while making it more attractive for employees who are close to retirement.

As it was presented Monday, the incentive plan would apply to workers who are at least 60 years old with a minimum of 20 years' service. Mr. Powell said 109 employees would be eligible for early retirement under those provisions.

The incentives for them to retire early include credit for an additional five years of service and up to six months of unused sick leave, he told commissioners.

The city in turn could also reap the benefits, Mr. Powell said. Their vacated positions would either be eliminated, left unfilled for a year, consolidated with other positions or filled with new employees paid at the starting level.

He said early retirement is a more popular move than layoffs.

Commissioners, however, took no action Monday. Among their concerns was how employees in the fire department and sheriff's office would be affected by an early retirement plan. Employees in those departments are eligible to retire at age 55.

"I can tell you there are people anxiously waiting to see if this passes," Mr. Powell said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

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