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Hartford Mayor Proposes Retirement Changes For Non-Union Employees, Retirement Incentives For Unions

By JENNA CARLESSO

December 13, 2010

Mayor Pedro Segarra on Monday floated several proposals designed to save the city money by adjusting the retirement age and pension amounts for non-union city employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2011.

Under the proposals, employees hired after the start of the New Year could not retire before age 55. Currently, city workers can retire after 20 or 25 years of service, regardless of how old they are.

Employees under the new plan would not be able to collect a full pension until age 62. Those who opt to begin drawing a pension between 55 and 61 would get reduced benefits.

Additionally, pension payments would be calculated at 1.75 percent of the final average pay, instead of 2.5 percent, said Councilman Kenneth Kennedy, who worked with the mayor to create the proposals.

"Everybody knows about the people retiring at age 42," Kennedy said. "We've got to put a change to that."

One proposal raised would also eliminate non-union employees' ability to exchange accumulated sick time for years of service for the purposes of calculating retirement benefits.

The proposals, laid out in five resolutions that went before the city council Monday, were referred to the panel's labor and workforce and operations, management and budget committees for review. A public hearing on the proposed changes will take place on Dec. 20.

Kennedy said the council would likely vote on the resolutions at its Jan. 10 meeting. The proposals would take effect retroactively, he said.

"I don't think anyone will be hired in that time frame, from the beginning of the year to the first council meeting," Kennedy said.

City officials had originally considered the new retirement plan for employees hired on or after July 1, 2011, but the date was moved up after 30 city workers applied for a retirement incentive program. The last day for workers who applied for the program which was extended to non-union employees this past fall will be Dec. 31.

"What I didn't want to do was offer a retirement [plan] and have the same positions refilled with no savings on the pension side," Segarra said. "It's anticipated that we're going to have to fill some of those positions. I would like to do that knowing we're saving. If not, we're running the risk that we won't get as much benefit from that effort."

The mayor also introduced a resolution that would extend retirement incentive programs to four different unions. The council passed it on Monday.

Under that proposal, qualified workers from three unions the Municipal Lawyers' Association, the Hartford Municipal Employees Association and the City of Hartford Employees Association SEIU Local 2001 would have the option of applying for a program similar to the one offered to the city's non-union employees. Those who apply could choose to receive up to four additional years of pension credit or up to three years of city-paid health insurance.

A different retirement package was proposed for members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 4 Local 1716, because that union is not a participant in city's municipal employees' retirement fund, Segarra said. Members of that group who apply may elect to receive three years of city-funded health insurance or three annual lump sum payments of $3,000.

"Right now we're discussing it among the membership and weighing our options," said Larry Dorman, a spokesman for AFSCME Council 4 Local 1716. "We have a concern that any time you offer an early retirement incentive package, that it has a negative impact on services."

Dorman said it's too soon to tell how many of the roughly 500 members who work for the city or the city's public library will apply for the program.

"I don't see a lot of people taking advantage of it in these tough economic times," he said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
     
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