BATH – The Steuben County Legislature will offer early retirement incentives this year as a way to offset significant losses in local sales tax revenues and state funding for mandated services due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Steuben officials hope voluntary retirements by long-time employees will reduce the county’s looming budget shortfall, now estimated internally at $5.7 million, pending state funding reductions.
“We do not want to lose experienced staff who are valuable to our operations in ways a paycheck can’t begin to measure,” county Manager Jack Wheeler said. “But we hope this incentive will help us with needed staffing reductions to achieve a workable county budget for 2021.”
The incentive will be offered to:
• Employees aged 55 by the date of their retirement with more than 25 years of county service. Those
employees are eligible for an additional 50 percent of a single health insurance premium contribution up to age 65; or a one-time payment of $20,000.
• Employees aged 55 by the date of retirement with more than 20 years of county service but less than 25 years are eligible for an additional 25 percent of a single health insurance premium contribution through age 65, or a one-time payment of $10,000.
Wheeler said an estimated 110 employees are eligible for this incentive, but significantly less will likely take the offer. While some vacated positions will be filled by new employees, the cost savings will be significant, he said. Steuben now employs roughly 900 people.
Wheeler said any transition created by the retirement of department heads or senior management will be challenging but offset by plans and training already in place. “We had to offer one of these early retirement incentives 10yrs ago when we were facing a budget shortfall due to the economic downturn,” said County Legislature Chairman Scott VanEtten, R-Caton. That helped us to bridge the
financial gap and we hope that this package has the same positive impact.”