PLAN AMENDMENT: Why the Pension Plan was Debate | Native information

The focus of the topic during Monday’s city council meeting was Alabama’s retirement systems, which allowed municipalities to restructure employees on the Tier II pension scale and move them to Tier I.

Mayor Ronnie Marks had mentioned he would have several months to deal with the issue, but Monday’s meeting was the last opportunity the city had before an RSA deadline and made a vote on the issue a necessity.

According to Marsha Sloss, Human Resources Manager, the city of Athens has 370 employees, of which 235 are in Tier I pension plans and 138 in Tier II pension plans.

At the beginning of the last financial year, the city granted all employees a 3% adjustment in the cost of living and increased the basic remuneration for police officers and firefighters in order to ensure employee loyalty.

After these adjustments, attention turned to the retirement plan and whether or not Tier II staff should be restructured.

“As a Tier I employee, you can retire at the age of 60 with 10 years of service or 25 years of service at any age,” Sloss said at the council meeting on March 22nd. “Tier II employees must be 62 years old and have been in service for at least 10 years.”

“We continued to lose our employees,” she said. “We lost her for various reasons. Since that conversation, some employees have told us that this was a factor in why they decided to leave town. I assume we’ll see more people go. “

Members of Athens Fire & Rescue had told the council ahead of Monday’s meeting that it was more important to their efforts to retain seasoned firefighters to bring Tier II workers back to Tier I, despite wanting an increase in the base salary.

“I know the council has been inundated on the Tier II stuff, but for the firefighters, the Tier II thing is huge,” Athens firefighter Jeff Jones said during the meeting on Monday. “It will change the course of the fire brigade. We will lose valued employees. I am not the only one who says this to address you. that is an absolute fact. We have 13 Tier II employees right now, and these people are going to be going to Huntsville, Decatur, Scottsboro, Madison – all of these places that have been carried over (the change). These are the sons of Athens who want to stay and work here. “

The return of Tier II employees to Tier I would cost Athens an estimated $ 300,000 per year. Options for funding the change included the city finding a way to absorb the cost or increase workers’ retirement contributions by about 2%.

The city approved the move during Monday’s session. The city treasurer Annette Threet warned before the vote that a decision without further adjustments to cover or to offset the costs would not be a good sign for the city.

“We won’t be able to fund these much-needed salary adjustments or respond adequately to the pressures put on us by the unprecedented growth,” Threet said. Now the city will be forced to choose between funding the retirement plan and others Choose employee benefits and service delivery for the city. It is inevitable that that day will come if no further adjustments are made. “

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