Last month, the city offered a tempting incentive package to one-hundred workers for early retirement. The potential savings to the city, depending on how many people choose to retire early, could recoup a million dollars. More than 30 city workers have sprung for the deal.
How does this sound? Five months salary paid up front, cashing in your vacation time, up 25% of your sick leave – in return for early retirement. Pretty good, huh?
An incentive, Assistant Wilmington Fire Chief Ronald Jordan said he just could not pass up. He will be retiring after 37 years as a fireman; a duty that will be hard to shake for early retirement. “It just gets in your blood and it’s just what I have always enjoyed doing, never thought about doing anything different,” he said.
Among all incentives the city is offering for early retirement, Jordan said at the age of 57, it is the one that will focus on his health. For the next seven years, he will receive health insurance at no cost. “If the insurance deal wasn’t there, I probably wouldn’t be leaving,” Jordan said.
If it was not for health, people like Officer Larry Zettelmaier probably would not be retiring either. He will be turning in his Wilmington Police Department badge after 7 years on the force. “They made the offer out and I said, ‘Larry, it’s time to enjoy life’. I can do it financially; my health is great so it’s a good time for me to do it.”
The retirement incentive is just one strategy the city said will help balance the budget for the next fiscal year. But it is at the risk of losing experienced personnel from the police and fire departments, and other city sectors. With the city also under a hiring freeze, people like Jordan and Zettelmaier, who have years of experience, will not be replaced.
Wilmington spokesperson Malissa Talbert said, “That’s more than thirty employees that just have a wealth of experience and years of service to the city and we really hate to see them go. So it’s really with mixed emotions we approach the deadline.”
The city spokesperson said the retirement packages were a way to help avoid the potential of layoffs. The last day of work for both men is June 30th.
Chief Jordan and Officer Zettelmaier both said they will find something to stay busy.