Defined benefits pension needed to retain highly trained county workers

Tue, 06/17/2008 - 3:46pm
By: Letters to the ...

I would like to comment on the recent proposal to provide a retirement program for Fayette County employees, but first let me emphasize that I am writing this as a private citizen, and not as a representative of my present employer.

Unfortunately, the proposal to provide a retirement plan has become an election issue, and a number of people are automatically rejecting it without considering all of the facts and considerations.

The full study, initiated by the interim county administrator, Chief Krakeel, considers the total costs and benefits of the current system of no retirement program versus offering county employees one that does.

For example, one of the hidden costs that a fair and accurate study would consider is the turnover rate of new employees. All new county employees must receive training of some type, some to a greater extent than others.

For first responders, such as the law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, and emergency management personnel, the levels of training and certifications are quite extensive. These are also the services where job experience is critical. For example, a good police officer or firefighter requires having a number of years on the job, not just recent school graduation.

Once trained, county employees are more likely to remain with Fayette County rather than seeking better-paying positions elsewhere, or positions where long-term employment is better rewarded, such as with a county or city with a retirement program.

If Fayette County is going to keep quality employees, it needs to be competitive, and a retirement program is going to encourage that.

The retirement program may not be as costly as some people are claiming — it may very well be cheaper in the long run. Many employees will remain, even with lower pay than their contemporaries, if there is a long-term benefit.

Also, please remember the study was completed by a disinterested party, who was paid the same fee regardless of his final recommendations.

I strongly urge all the citizens of Fayette County to listen to Mr. Krakeel as he presents the proposal, and not to automatically dismiss it as costing too much. Fayette County has a very highly-regarded emergency management program in the state of Georgia, and it would be a shame to see it decline. But as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will point out that I am currently receiving retirement benefits from a federal retirement program as an Army retiree (like one of the current county commissioner candidates), which was certainly a factor I considered when I made the Army a career, just as it is for the present Fayette County employees.

Michael Dolder

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Submitted by McGerkin88 on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 6:33pm.

same one that East Point and Atlanta adopted, it ruined them. No way would anyone want this to happen here.

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