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Retirement offers total $6.2M
County heads given incentives to leave jobs

LAWRENCEVILLE - An incentive offer to get Gwinnett staffers to retire will cost taxpayers $6.2 million.

It presents what could be a hard amount of cash to walk away from.

For the county's most influential, like Deputy County Administrator Mike Comer, the promise of 20 percent bonuses on vacation and sick time on top of a week's pay for every two years of service, bumped his expected retirement payout of $66,440.09 from the vacation time he had saved up to a total of $117,853.23.

Comer, Assistant County Administrator Lisa Johnsa and Fire Chief Steve Rolader have said they are taking the retirement incentive.

County Administrator Jock Connell, who said he will retire at the end of the year, is foregoing the offer of a $91,915.40 boost to the $99,570.22 he already has coming to him in retirement.

Police Chief Charles Walters, who was offered a total of $108,652.74 to retire, including the money he qualified for before, has decided to steer his department through the turnover of the next year.

According to Human Resources Director Kenneth Poe, the incentive offer, which also includes the county paying all health insurance premiums for two years, was offered to 316 people who qualified for retirement or would qualify in the near future.

With a deadline of Aug. 24 to accept the offer, the incentive is the first step in the county's process of shaving 250 jobs to trim costs.

But the program itself is pricey. The incentive alone - not counting the amount already owed to retirees - will cost the police department $1.8 million and the fire department nearly $1.7 million.

Poe said each department will have to absorb the incentive costs through savings of keeping positions vacant or other means.

The costs vary per employee, but it is still quite a reward, even for lower-paid staff. Take Maureen Davison of the Police Department, whose retirement cash payout was multiplied by six from $783.49 to $4,589.04 due to the incentive.

For some whose retirement dates come within the next year, Poe said the cash is not only a bonus but necessary, as the retirees will take an unpaid leave of absence until their retirement date roles around.

Once the retirements are settled, Poe said officials will begin the task of determining which jobs are necessary and which will be cut.

Those who take the retirement will leave Sept. 18.