The Onondaga County Legislature met on July 6 for its regular monthly session. The items that received the most discussion were the Onondaga County Community College annual budget and an early retirement incentive program for county employees. Both items passed with support from both sides of the aisle. I voted in favor of the OCC budget and co-sponsored the early retirement incentive program resolutions.
The early retirement incentive resolutions are beneficial to the county in several ways. Out of a possible 1300 employees who are eligible, we have estimates that about 335 will opt to take the early retirement.
Although the county must reimburse the state retirement system for the cost of the program, we believe there are several ways to save tax dollars. First, as we reduce our numbers through attrition, we will not be refilling the positions, thereby reducing the size of government.
Second, if we absolutely have to refill an indispensable position, we are hiring at a lower salary and into a new retirement system that requires new employees to pay into the system throughout their career. The county estimates it can reduce the cost of county government personnel by 13 million to 17 million each year.
Additionally, this program will reduce, if not eliminate, the need for layoffs as we begin working on the 2011 budget. The early retirement incentive program permitted the county to voluntarily reduce the workforce with the highest paid employees versus layoffs that would reduce the workforce by seniority, meaning an individual at the lowest pay grade. The early retirement incentive program works for both the county and the labor workforce.
The OCC budget was another topic under discussion at this session. The County Legislature's only role in the budget is to approve the county's contribution to the budget. OCC sets the tuition and the overall budget with state funding to make up the other two-thirds of the budget.