Employees step forward to retire early

NAUGATUCK — Eight public works employees have agreed to an early retirement deal, while a ninth is seeking the option as well.

The early retirements come as the borough seeks to save money and will transition trash and recycling collections to private companies.

Originally, the agreement between the borough and Local 1303-12 of Council 4, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents public works employees, stated up to seven employees could take the option. After further negations the number was raised to eight. According to the agreement, four of the employees are expected to retire on June 27. The other four will retire on Sept. 26.

The department currently has three vacant positions on top of the eight employees set to retire, according to Public Works Director James Stewart.

Five positions will be lost through attrition after the switch to private collections in the 2014-15 fiscal year. The Board of Mayor and Burgesses in May awarded five-year contracts to the Oakville-based Copes Rubbish Removal for curbside collections and USA Hauling and Recycling of Enfield for municipal dumpster collections. The collections have been done by public works employees. The move is estimated to save the borough about $485,000 over the five years.

Mayor Robert Mezzo said on his blog, www.bobmezzo.com, the borough has the option not to fill the six remaining positions during the 2014-15 fiscal year in order to absorb the retirement payouts.

“We are looking to replace those six positions at some point, but that’s up in the air at this point,” Stewart said.

Stewart said officials are waiting for the 2014-15 budget to go into effect in July before making a final decision. The $115.2 million budget is likely heading to a referendum after petitions were submitted last week.

Public works employees who retire will receive full pension credit for all unused accrued sick days. Those with at least 10 years of service will receive five additional years of service added to their pension calculation. An employee’s years of service may not exceed 35 years in total with the incentive benefit, according to the agreement.

An employee with more than 35 years of service, not including the service benefit, will also receive a one-time stipend of $5,000 for each year above 35, according to the agreement.

Controller Robert Butler could not be reached for comment on the financial impact of the retirements.

With eight employees in line to retire, Street and Sewage Inspector Manny Tavares is looking to join them.

Tavares asked the borough board on June 3 to consider extending the option to him. Although Tavares was one of the first employees to request an early retirement, the retirements were given on seniority, which put him in the ninth position to retire.

The board tabled the matter for further discussion.

If the board allows Tavares to retire, Stewart said, his position would have to be filled either buy a new employee or by moving a current employee into that position.

The land use office will also be undergoing a change.

An agreement between the borough and the Borough of Naugatuck Supervisors Chapter 90 waives the retirement age restriction for Town Planner and Wetlands Enforcement Officer Keith Rosenfeld to be eligible for early retirement. The agreement also waives the age requirement for Zoning Enforcement Officer Steven Macary to receive normal retirement benefits.

The borough hopes to have one person fill the positions of town planner, wetlands enforcement officer and zoning enforcement officer. The move is expected to save approximately $40,000 in the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to officials.

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