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Eligible Onondaga County workers could each get $10,000 buyout to retire this year

Tom Magnarelli
Onondaga County Legislature Ways & Means committee meeting on Monday.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney wants to offer a voluntary, $10,000 buyout for eligible county workers to retire this year. The Onondaga County Legislature would have to approve the program.

Steve Morgan, Onondaga County’s chief fiscal officer said the buyout program came from another incentive the county offered to the Civil Service Employees Association or CSEA in a tentative agreement on a new contract. It offers a reduced rate in retiree healthcare for workers that retire this year.

“The idea really grew out of that saying if that is sparking some interest; let’s potentially offer an incentive to the whole county workforce, because that is just CSEA,” Morgan said.

A state early retirement incentive was offered to Onondaga County workers in 2010 and the county went through a process of analyzing which positions were most critical to rehire. Morgan said that would happen again. Nearly 350 county workers took the retirement incentive in 2010. New York State required that half of those positions not be rehired.

"There was a lot of work that was done internally to determine which ones needed to be filled," Morgan said. "That's the same process that we will go through once we know individuals and employees that are interested in taking this incentive." 

Workers eligible for retirement would get a hefty bonus and the county saves money by eliminating some positions or rehiring at a lower salary. There would be no rehiring requirements for the proposal.

Onondaga County legislators such as Linda Ervin seem to be on board.

“Who can turn their nose down to a $10,000 gift?" Ervin asked. "They get to retire early and then go someplace else and do what they want to do. It’s a great thing. For us, certainly it’s a savings, there’s no question about that. If you have somebody who’s at the top of their pay scale, and they’re leaving now and we hire somebody at the lower end, we’re saving money. We need to do that to make our budget more appealing.”

Legislator Casey Jordan also said he thinks there could be savings.

“The dollars and cents of it seem to favor moving forward with the program," Jordan said. "I guess it will all depend on how many people come forward.”

The Onondaga County Legislature is expected to vote on the program next week.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.