Following the presentation of the county manager's proposed budget for the year ending 2011, Dare County Commissioner Virginia Tillett expressed dissatisfaction of the handling of early retirement incentives for two county employees.
Originally, County Manager, Bobby Outten proposed offering a 25% early retirement incentive for certain employees in the higher wage bracket with the idea it would save the county money. However, Commissioner Richard Johnson wasn't happy with the amount and pushed to have it increased to 50% of the employee's base salary.
During Monday's presentation, Outten said two employees were offered the incentive (50%) and accepted it. EOD has learned, from reliable sources, the two employees are the Planning Director and the Information Technology Director. Their salaries are $111,228 and $106,032, respectively.
Apparently, not all eligible county employees were given the offer.
Tillett said, "I want to apologize to any of our workers who got a misunderstanding on their early retirement. I'm really sorry that happened". Tillett said she had been approached by workers about the matter. "Early retirement, in my opinion, should have been for anyone who's eligible for it," said Tillett.
"And even though we were trying to make a dollar off our early retirement, morally, we weren’t clear, so folks got the wrong impression and now their feelings are hurt. I apologize to those people," she said.
According to a list of 26 eligible employees reviewed by the county commissioners, the Information Technology Director has 27 years of service and qualified under the "Age 65 with 5 Years Service" rule.
The Planning Director was not on the list, but has qualified years of service with other local governments, for example the Town of Kill Devil Hills.
According to the list, the Director of the Board of Elections has 39 years of service and was one of 13 employees who had at least 30 years of service. However, none of these employees are among those who will get the incentive.
According to the method of computing retirement benefits within the Local Government Retirement System, benefits are paid, based upon the "Average Final Compensation (AFC)" The AFC is the average of the four highest consecutive years salaries. Normally, these are the last four years before one retires. The "maximum" annual benefit usually amounts to approximately 55% of the AFC figure. If a retirement incentive of $58,000 qualifies to be computed into one's AFC it would raise that amount by approximately $14,500 per year and result in approximately $8,000 per year in additional retirement benefits for life.
Finally, in what appears to be a shell game with the payout, Outten told the commissioners the plan was to pay this incentive of approximately $108,000 from this year's budget, and it will reflect in the savings for next year's budget. Go figure.
EOD thinks there is something about this maneuver that smells very badly. And, we wonder what the taxpayers and the rest of the county employees think about it.