Politics & Government

Macon-Bibb County leaders to see how retirements will affect big picture

The effects of an extensive Macon-Bibb County retirement program will take a while to navigate after the deadline for employees to accept the package expired Friday.

Interest in the retirement package continued in the days leading up to the 5 p.m. deadline, as the local government looks to cut at least 93 positions outside of public safety. About 400 employees eligible for retirement were offered incentives as part of post-consolidation downsizing.

Human Resources Director Ben Hubbard reported on July 28 that the ledger topped 200 employees who accepted retirements or said they intended to.

Macon-Bibb officials declined to provide the latest figures to the Telegraph on Friday.

Spokesman Chris Floore said officials would tally the final numbers next week and then inform commissioners before releasing them publicly.

“We had people coming in Human Resources all week long and calling up until (Thursday) to see if they could do it,” Floore said.

Next week, Macon-Bibb leaders will begin gauging the financial and organizational impact the retirements will have on the government.

“This will be a significant undertaking involving all of the departments, because it will mean reviewing service delivery, reporting structures and which positions need to be filled,” Floore said in an email. “We will be looking at how we can work differently and more effectively, because we know many of the positions will not be filled.”

The jobs of public safety employees who accepted the package will be filled, and those won’t count toward the needed 93 retirements. There were about 60 public safety workers who accepted the retirements between May and June, said Danny Angelo, chairman of the Macon Fire and Police Pension Board.

He did not have July’s numbers but said Friday he has heard about 40 more employees could have filled out retirement paperwork by the deadline.

Eligibility requirements for the retirement packages varied by the pension plans -- city of Macon, Bibb County and fire/police -- that staff are under­­.

“Early in the process we talked cash buyouts as one of the options but moved away and went with a pension that gives them a payment every month,” Floore said.

Eligible workers attended meetings where the retirement process and timeline were explained. They were informed of the amount of their monthly checks, assuming they took part in the program.

“We wanted everyone to have a full understanding of what was being offered before they made their decision,” Floore said.

The city-county government also will have to decide how to deal with the holes left by eight high-ranking employees who have accepted retirements, resigned or left for another job in the past few months.

They include an assistant county manager and directors of the Information Technology, Emergency Management Agency, Animal Welfare, Facilities Management, Public Works, E-911 and Recreation departments.

To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623.