Kalamazoo Gazette Reporter Looks at City's Early Retirement Program

Mar 18, 2014

Kalamazoo City Hall - file photo
Credit WMUK


Kalamazoo Gazette reporter Emily Monaceill examined the numbers after Kalamazoo's early retirement program wrapped up in January. 

265 employees were offered the incentive. It included an extra three years credit toward their pension and an extra 1% lump sum payment. The city also paid out $4.7-million for unused vacation and sick time to employees who took early retirement. 

Monacelli says city commissioners all agree that the early retirement program was necessary, and was preferable to lay-offs. But some members of the commission now wish they had asked more questions before approving the program. Monacelli says those questions include whether the incentive needed to be that large to lure enough workers. 

The City's Chief Financial Officer Tom Skrobola has defended the incentive. Monacelli says Skrobola believes the city got a high participation rate because of the offer. Former City Manager Ken Collard also says the early retirement program was a success. Monacelli says that's because the participation rate was higher than anticipated. 

Collard's is one of those who who took advantage of the early retirement incentive. Is payout was the larget of any employee who retired early. Monacelli says one change moving forward is included in the contract for Jim Ritsema, who replaced Collard as city manager. He will not be allowed in any early retirement incentive offered by the city. 

The Gazette has a look at the top 10 payouts for people taking early retirement. And a database on pensions and payouts to all 217 city employees who took advantage of early retirement