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LAWRENCE CO. Retirees package bandied



Published: Wed, August 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Workers will have two months to decide if they want to take the early-retirement package.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County's retirement board is looking at offering early retirement incentives to longtime workers.

The county retirement board will meet at 11 a.m. Monday in the county commissioners meeting room to discuss the idea. The retirement board is made up of the three county commissioners, county Controller Mary Ann Reiter and Treasurer Gary Felasco.

County Commissioner Brian Burick said the state permits counties to offer early-retirement incentives once every five years. It would apply to county employees age 55 or older with at least 10 years of experience, he said.

There are 61 workers out of the county's 500 employees who would be eligible for any early-retirement incentive package the county offers, said Susan Quimby, county human resource director.

Reason for rush: Next week's retirement board meeting was put together quickly when county officials realized they must make a decision on early-retirement incentives before the end of August.

State regulations say the county must inform workers of any retirement incentive offers by Sept. 1 and then give them a 60-day window to make a decision, Burick said.

Burick said early retirement incentives could save the county money by replacing higher-paid workers with lower-paid workers. The county won't know how much could be saved until retirement board members agree on the terms of the incentive package.

Retirement board members will have to decide on the amount of extra pension a person could receive by taking the early-retirement incentive. They have the option to increase an early retiree's pension by 10 percent, 20 percent or 30 percent credited to a person's years of service, resulting in a higher pension, Quimby said.

Dissension: At least one member of the county retirement board disagrees with the early-retirement incentive idea.

County Commissioner Ed Fosnaught said he won't support it unless it reduces the overall number of county employees. The current plan calls for replacing those who retire.

Reiter and Commissioner Roger DeCarbo agreed to have the meeting to discuss the incentive package, but did not say if they favor the idea. Felasco wasn't at the county commissioners meeting Tuesday when the early-retirement packages were discussed.

cioffi@vindy.com




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