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11 city employees retiring early

Jefferson City municipal government will see more savings than anticipated through its early retirement program, with 11 city employees taking part.

Last month, the City Council approved an early retirement program known as the separation incentive program, or SIP, as part of a series of cuts to make up for a $1.68 million shortfall in the current budget. At the time, the city estimated a savings of $150,000 from the program. That meant six employees were needed to take part to achieve the savings.

The last day for employees to take part in the voluntary program was Monday, and Human Resources Director Gail Strope said 11 employees have chosen to leave through SIP. Strope said of those who have opted to leave the city, five are in the Police Department, three in the Fire Department, one in the Finance Department, one in the Public Works Department and one in the Planning and Protective Services Department.

Strope said the anticipated savings for the current fiscal year is now more than $200,000.

“We are still working on the rough calculations,” Strope said.

The savings would also equal about $800,000 for the next fiscal year, she said.

City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus said the plan is to keep those positions vacant for the foreseeable future, but that will require some reshuffling of duties.

“It’s just a question of reshifting things,” Nickolaus said. “We will have to do overall with less positions than what we had before, because there has to be a permanent reduction in our personnel in order for us to be able to keep going forward.”

Nickolaus said none of the positions are expendable and the reduction in staff likely will result in a reduction of services. To what extent services will have to be reduced is still unknown, he said.

“When you do cuts that you take by retirement and other voluntary reductions in force, there is a certain randomness in how those exactly happen,” Nickolaus said. “As time goes on, we will find the new balance.”

Nickolaus said the $800,000 estimate of savings for the next fiscal year is higher than what the city had projected, which is good, but it may not be enough.

“Next year is going to be a tough fiscal year as well and some of the cuts that we made this year were one time cuts,” Nickolaus said. “The vacancy savings will have to make up for some of those.”

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