SWEETWATER COUNTY– The Sweetwater County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a voluntary separation program (VSP) for qualifying county employees on Tuesday.
Personnel costs, including salary and benefits, amounts to over 76 percent of the county’s operating budgets. The VSP allows the county to cut costs by reducing headcount, while also helping employees retire by offering a one-time $30,000 benefit.
The 2019 VSP Policies and Procedures states, “The County Commissioners want to encourage efficient County government through the application of technology, improved organization, and planning, such that minimal staffing levels can be maintained to perform public services.”
Allowing Some Flexibility
The original idea for the program was to eliminate positions as employees took the VSP. This would produce the most significant cost savings. However, eliminating positions meant only certain employees could take the retirement incentive, as some positions are absolutely necessary for operations.
After getting employee feedback, Human Resource Director Garry McLean said most employees who showed interested in the VSP asked for more flexibility in who is eligible for the $30,000 incentive.
In response to offering more flexibility, the wording of the VSP was restructured.
With the restructuring, the commissioners will give case-by-case consideration to some requests. Rather than eliminating positions altogether, the position could be restaffed at a lower pay rate, or the departments may also choose to reorganize.
Commissioner Roy Lloyd said he liked the restructuring of the wording, as it provided the employees with flexibility.
Commissioner Randy Wendling and Chairman Wally Johnson also spoke favorably of new version of the VSP, expressing their support for it.
Eligible employees who can request for the incentive include part-time and full-time employees with at least eight years of service for the county. Personnel of various component units of the county are not eligible.
Employees must submit a request by March 30, 2019, and must separate from employment by April 30, 2019, unless otherwise authorized by the commissioners.