After some 19 long-time Crossville city employees took early retirement last year, talk that some of those employees are seeking to be employees again has raised some questions.
We got some answers from former Crossville city manager David Rutherford who originally proposed the early retirement buyout and we got some financial information from city finance director Fred Houston.
City council approved the plan in September 2014 offering eligible employees a lump sum payment of 50 percent of their annual salary and a bridge insurance program that would have provided health insurance until the employee was medicare eligible. If the employee was already medicare eligible they would receive a monthly payment to cover additional parts of medicare coverage for two years.
Nineteen city employees took advantage of the program.
The question has been raised whether employees who took the early retirement could come back at a later date to again work for the city. According to Rutherford, the program as approved by the council did not include a prohibition or any agreement that an employee would stay retired. All employees who took the early buyout had to leave employment by the end of January 2015.
“We didn't think anyone would want to come back,” explained Rutherford. All the retirees who participated in the Tennessee Comprehensive Retirement System (TCRS) could receive full retirement benefits at age 60 with 5 years at the city, after 30 years of service, or at age 55 with 25 years of service they could receive a reduced monthly payment.
One recent change by the city has made coming back to work for the city easier for those retirees. Since the city has dropped the more expensive TCRS retirement system and opted for a match retirement savings plan, similar to a 401k, employees who return can work now and keep receiving their retirement payment while they work. If the city was still with TCRS, the employee would have to suspend their retirement pay to return to work under the TRCS plan.
The employees who took early retirement received a total payout of $465,250 for their half year's salary. At the September 2014 council meeting where the plan was approved by council, it was estimated some 10 employees would take the buyout and according to Rutherford at that meeting the savings to the city would come when all those who left were not replaced.
Insurance costs expected for the retirees totals $543,252.49 but any retirees who return to work would be switched over to regular employee insurance benefit. Interim city manager Steve Hill took the early retirement and received a lump sum payment of $34,374 plus insurance until 2022.
Another retiree that has been mentioned as possibly wanting to return to work is former police officer Darrell Sherrill who sought to apply for the regular Crossville police chief's position earlier this year at the time the city was requesting internal applications only. It was ruled that as a retiree, Sherrill could not apply as a current employee.
With the city now seeking applications for a full time chief, another possible hire that previously took early retirement could be former police chief David Beaty. Between Hill, Sherrill and Beaty the three received a total cash buy out of $101,688.