• August 17, 2019

Retirees on county’s radar - Odessa American: Local News

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Retirees on county’s radar

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Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 4:12 pm

More Ector County employees are anticipated to opt for retirement between now and the end of 2020.

Ector County Human Resources Director Pat Patton said the exact number of people expected to retire is difficult to pinpoint because some employees work beyond their retirement age, but she said a recent revision to the retired employee definition might make some reconsider delaying their retirement date.

The Commissioners’ Court approved shifting eligibility qualifications at the end of 2018 for health and dental benefits under the Ector County employee health benefit plan as a cost-cutting measure.

The revision stated that in addition to meeting the Texas County and District Retirement System’s retirement definition, a retiring employee must have a minimum of 12 years of service with Ector County to qualify for retiree insurance benefits instead of eight years.

The change went into effect this year and employees have until Jan. 1, 2021 to be grandfathered in under the former criteria.

There are about 225 county employees with eight years of service with the county and about 113 people with 12 years of service as of December 2018.

The county budgeted for about 670 positions this year, but many roles were left vacant.

“We may see in December of 2020 a number of people retiring,” Patton said. “We’d be looking to fill more vacancies, but theoretically we would be hiring people probably at a lower step than those who are retiring, so salary-wise there could be a savings on that end.”

Ector County has had 15 employees retire thus far for fiscal year 2019 but Patton expects that number to increase before the end of the year.

Patton said the positions that could open up before the grandfather clause deadline will not be the same jobs the county is currently struggling to fill.

“I think where so many of our vacancies are now, like in the jailer positions, is not necessarily where our older employees who are eligible and who have the extensive years of service for their age are,” Patton said. “Those (retirees) might be more like department heads or key staff members that have been around longer or promoted up more so than the vacancies we’re facing right now.”

Ector County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Sgt. Gary Duesler said a total of six law enforcement and civilian employees have retired since the fiscal year began in October.

“Most of those were people that have been here long term,” Duesler said.

He said county departments are affected due to the loss of knowledge that often occurs when veteran employees retire.

“You don’t just replace someone who has been here 30 years by bumping somebody else up,” he said. “They take a lot of knowledge with them when they go and hopefully they pass some of it on too.”

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