Seven town employees have elected to participate in New York state's Early Retirement Incentive program recently adopted by the DeWitt Town Board. One of those individuals is Commissioner of Development and Operations, Dick Robb.
An employee of 20 years, Robb said he hadn't been intending to retire any time soon, but when Supervisor Ed Michalenko approached him as an eligible candidate, he accepted.
"It was a surprise but the more I looked into it, the more it made sense," Robb said. "I think it's a good time and a great opportunity to move on and do something else. Certainly not just put my feet up."
The state incentive includes one month of retirement credit for each year employed. With seven employees opting in, the town will save about $240,000 per year which will rise to almost $300,000 once it has met its obligations to the state pension program, Michalenko said.
Robb, the highest paid of those retiring early, is in charge of planning, land management and compliance/zoning enforcement; solid waste planning and management; and facilities management.
Michalenko said the town will restructure the department, splitting Robb's responsibilities between current town employees Mike Morraco and Jim Conlon. Morraco, who will be in charge of operations, is currently the assistant director of parks and recreation. Conlon, the town's codes enforcement officer, will step into the lead role of planning and zoning.
"It's a win/win," Michalenko said. "The town is reorganizing to reduce the number of positions to lower its longterm labor costs. The employee wins by gaining the additional time in their pension formula without actually having to work those additional years."
Town attorney Jamie Sutphen and Planning Board Chairman Mike Lazar spoke out at a special meeting held last week. Robb was not present.
"Personally, I have a lot of respect for Dick and his abilities," Lazar said. "I'm also a resident of the town, a taxpayer and I understand you have to make these decisions. Unfortunately, it's always the highest paid, the most experienced people that end up taking the brunt of this because that saves you the most money. They're also the hardest typically to be replaced and they have the biggest impact when they go."