A group of 29 Clarkstown town workers have decided to participate in a state-backed early retirement incentive program, and the town government has decided to cut 17 of those jobs once they become vacant at the end of the month.
Clarkstown town Supervisor Alexander Gromack said the cuts made possible through the retirements will save the town an estimated $1.3 million to $1.5 million annually in salary costs.
"We are able to take advantage of these savings because our town employees realize the economic difficulties we are in," Gromack said Wednesday, which was the deadline for eligible workers to file paperwork required to take advantage of the early retirement program.
Gromack said the town administration used the retirement incentive program as an opportunity to review how the town provides services to the public and look for ways of providing those services with fewer employees. For the jobs that are being eliminated, Gromack said remaining town employees have agreed to take on additional duties that will make the cost savings possible.
Gromack and the other four members of the Town Board have agreed the town needs to hire replacements for 12 of the positions that will become vacant in various departments. However, Gromack said the town will see costs savings as those jobs remain vacant for about six months in the hiring process, and the people who take those jobs will be hired at lower salaries and some of the job titles will be changed to allow reduced salaries.
In some cases, town employees have agreed to take civil service promotion examinations so they will be eligible under existing labor contracts to take on added responsibilities in town government.
"Our employees are being very responsible and have been cooperating," said Gromack.
The job cuts will affect departments throughout town government, but Gromack said the biggest changes will come in the town Department of Environmental Control, where Director K. Luke Kalarickal will be eliminating five jobs with the early-retirement incentives.
The town Recreation and Parks Department will lose three positions, and the Town Attorney's Office will lose two positions, Gromack said.
The incentive program gives workers employment credit for leaving their job early. For example, a town worker with 24 years of service would get credit for two extra years of service. Gromack said that would increase pension benefits for that worker by a range of 2 to 5 percent.
Even with the extra retirement costs, Gromack said the town will see significant savings because of the job cuts that will be made possible and by allowing the town to hire necessary replacements at lower salaries.
When the Town Board approved taking part in the incentive program in July, town officials were anticipating about 25 people would be leaving early. About 50 town workers were eligible for the incentive program.