Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda Common Council approved a retirement incentive for employees of two unions, a multi-tiered offering that would be used to offset the costs of health insurance, officials said.
Mark Dotterweich, the city accountant, told the council this week that he sent out letters to 33 potential retirees with the offer. Those employees are a part of the Civil Service Employees Association, which represents staff members of City Hall, the water department, the signal department and the parks and recreation departments, as well as department of public works employees who are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
"This year we are offering a retirement incentive that is not quite as rich as it's been in the past," he said.
But there's another catch: Those interested in accepting the incentive, would only have until July 31 to tender their decision to the city.
Employees of either CSEA or AFSCME with 20 or more years of experience and who meet the prerequisites would be offered two installments of $5,000 in 2015 and 2016 or a one-time payment of $7,500 in 2015 and to retire with medical insurance.
They would also be required to accept whatever changes come along with ongoing union negotiations, with contracts for both unions set to expire at the end of the year.
The municipality has offered the incentive in one form or another since 2009, though Mayor Rob Ortt had indicated last year that the city would not extend it in perpetuity. Dotterweich said the amount and length of the incentives has also become less attractive over time, though the city could still save $6,000 per retiree if contract negotiations lead to employees paying a portion of their health insurance.
Council President Russ Rizzo said new hires linked to other unions who work for the city have already agreed to pay 25 percent of their insurance costs.
"The savings alone on the health insurance would pay more than the bonus," he said. "But it will probably only affect three or four employees. I think it's a good thing for the city because of the savings."
Dotterweich said 35 people have accepted incentives since 2009, with a peak of 13 deciding to retire in 2011, adding that four people have expressed interest in this year's offering.