Too soon for vote on early retirement

NEW CASTLE, Pa. — Lawrence County Housing Authority board tabled an early-retirement incentive projected to save at least $415,000 over four years.

“I just don’t feel ready to vote for this,” said Frank LaGrotta, the authority’s newest board member, at a meeting today.

Member Mike Mancuso echoed LaGrotta’s statement, noting he wants to know more about a plan the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has to restructure all housing authorities in an effort to streamline their operations.

By April, the authority is expected to start implementing an asset-management program that may require fewer employees.

“We need to see more pieces of the puzzle, and that would require what HUD’s plan is for reorganization,” Mancuso said.

Holly Girdwood, authority controller, said the early-retirement plan is expected to save the authority $415,000 to $700,000 over four years. She said there may be at least four employees who take the offer.

The plan would be offered to employees 60 or older or employees with 10 or more years of service.

The proposed incentive would give employees who opt to continue with health insurance a $500-per month payout for three years.

Those who don’t take the health insurance would be paid $1,000 per month. This is in addition to the employees’ already-earned pension.

The savings would come by replacing higher-paid employees with those making less and not replacing all who retire.

“I think there needs to be a complete plan. If we use it now, we may well hurt ourselves in the future,” Mancuso said.

The plan was tabled at the board’s December meeting at Mancuso’s request because two of the five board members were not present when it previously had been discussed.

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