D.C. Workers to Fenty: Hasta La Vista!
The exodus of city employees interested in taking up Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on his offer to give them up to $25,000 to retire under a special program begins in April. The corporate world calls it a buyout; the District government calls it an "easy out/early out."
The incentive program was announced in December and in February, Fenty signed a mayoral order to initiate the process. Fenty said at the time that an estimated 5,100 of the District's 32,000 employees were eligible for regular or early retirement. Under the "easy out/early out," those employees must be 50 years of age and have 20 years of creditable service, or any age and have 25 years of creditable service. They must be off the District payroll by Dec. 31.
Each agency, however, is responsible for coming up with the incentive money from its current budget and so must set its own deadline for those who qualify and who want the extra money to leave.
Essentially, each agency must pay for the incentives out of the savings achieved by taking employees off the payroll. In the case of the Department of Human Services, the deadline to retire and receive the monetary incentive is April 26. DHS spokeswoman Cheryl Holliday says, "We cannot afford to pay salaries and the incentive beyond April 27."
She said employees have through today to declare if they are ready to leave as early as the end of the month. Many employees had indicated that they hoped to work until Sept. 30, the end of the District's 2008 fiscal year, or to the end of the calendar year and still get the incentive. No way, says DHS. As a result, "people are still grappling" with the decision on when they will retire, Holliday said. Those who miss the early deadline can simply retire anytime before Dec. 3,1 but must forfeit the incentive.
A spokeswoman in the Department of Public Works said the incentive retirement cut-off in that agency is Sept. 22, but no other agency deadlines were immediately available. The overall retirement program is administered by the Department of Human Resources, but spokesman Nelson Akeredolu said the agency is not releasing individual agency incentive cut-off retirement dates. He said, however, the agency, had received 800 applications for the "easy out/early out" program through the end of last week.
That number is sure to change.
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