In a move to reduce public safety layoffs next year, the City Council at its July 23 meeting approved offering a $25,000 retirement incentive to at least 20 employees from the fire and police departments.
The city calculated that the cost of a layoff is roughly $25,000. Encouraging some higher paid longtime employees to retire could help the police and fire departments retain newer, less costly officers and firefighters.
“The thinking behind the incentive was that, number one, there would likely be layoffs in 2011 of sworn members,” said Tim Giles, director of employee services for Minneapolis. “And two, if someone were eligible to retire and chose to retire, the city would be willing to provide the same level of support to that retiring person as they would provide to a layoff, thereby saving the job of a much less senior individual.”
This isn’t the first time the city has offered a retirement incentive and Giles said they haven’t been popular in the past. He said he’s hoping this plan will attract officers and firefighters who are “on the fence” about whether to retire. Retirees would have to be out by the end of December and would not be allowed to return to any city department.
Police officers who accept the incentive will get it added to their healthcare account. Firefighters will get it as cash, since most senior employees have accumulated ample medical funds through a pension plan.
Mark Lakosky, president of Minneapolis Firefighters Local 82, said some firefighters are already “crunching numbers” to see if they’re a good fit.
“I’m getting a lot of interest with the budgets coming in,” he said. “I think it might be a great thing.”
If the incentive proves popular, the department chiefs can assess their budget and staffing situations and decide whether to offer it to an additional 10 employees each. They have to report their staffing decisions by Sept. 16. The money for the incentives would come from the city’s $2.1 million contingency fund.
Mayor R.T. Rybak first alluded to the plan in his supplemental budget presentation back in April as one of several “innovative” efforts to save jobs, maintain services and improve long-term budgeting. Council Member Betsy Hodges (13th Ward) led the ordinance development.
Council OKs fee for unfinished developments
Developers of unfinished projects could get tagged with a $6,550 annual fee if their buildings turn into problems for the city, based on an amendment the City Council approved at its last regular meeting.
The decision amends an ordinance that already applies to vacant and boarded properties and is meant to recoup the cost of sending inspections staff to deal with litter, graffiti, safety issues and other problems at building sites. Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy (12th Ward) introduced the amendment in response to problem properties that regularly generated complaints from residents.
The amendment allows the city to impose the fee on projects with expired permits or on which work has stopped for 180 days or more. Owners who maintain their properties to the city’s standards could avoid the fee.
Reach Jake Weyer at 436-4367 or firstname.lastname@example.org.