Council approves buy-outs, YSU plan

YOUNGSTOWN — An early-retirement incentive for certain city workers is estimated to save Youngstown between $3 million and $6.5 million over a 10-year period, the finance director said today.

The money saved by the city through the incentive depends entirely on the salaries of those taking the offer, when the retirements take effect, and if the vacant positions are eliminated, consolidated with another job or replaced by someone earning less money, Finance Director David Bozanich said.

About 80 city employees are eligible for the buyout program with about half expected to take the offer, he said.

Council approved an ordinance today to permit the board of control to move ahead with the incentive plan. Under the proposal, the city would buy two years of state Public Employees Retirement System time for eligible workers, costing Youngstown about $20,000 a year per employee, Bozanich said.

Those eligible would be employees age 60 or older with at least five years’ experience working for the city, those at least 55 with 25 years of service, or anyone with at least 28 years of service to the city.

If approved by the three-person board of control, of which Bozanich is a member, those eligible would need to tell the city of their intentions to take the offer between Feb. 1 and Jan. 31, 2008, and have to give 90 days’ notice.

Bozanich estimates if 40 people take the offer, the city could consolidate or eliminate about eight jobs and replace about four retirees with those who earn less money.

Also Wednesday, council:

• Approved an ordinance by a 5-2 vote to adopt a zone renewal plan for a 38-acre area that links Youngstown State University to downtown. Because of complaints from some business owners in that area, council tabled a vote in June 2006 on the plan, known as the Lincoln-Rayen-Wood Development District. Voting against the plan were Councilwoman Carol Rimedio-Righetti, D-4th, and Councilman Rufus Hudson, D-2nd. Rimedio-Righetti said the plan doesn’t properly address the needs of area business owners. YSU wants to build a $30 million business college building in that area.

• Declared 5.74 acres of Southside Park between Belleview and South avenues as surplus land and gave it to the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley. The mission wants to build a new facility at that location.

• Authorized the board of control to enter into an agreement with Brilex Industries Inc. for a loan of up to $2 million from the city for a 25,000-square-foot addition to its business in Riverbend Business Park, near Interstate 680, and to buy and install new equipment. The loan is backed by an irrevocable letter of credit from a bank and must be repaid within 18 months.

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