Early Retirements Mean Cuts in City Services for Kalamazoo
After a sizable percentage of Kalamazoo city employees signed up for early retirement incentives, officials are saying that paying out the incentives will lead cuts in services.

The early retirement program was instated to help curb a projected $6-million deficit for 2013.

Kalamazoo Public Safety Director Jeff Hadley said that 62 of his 280 employees, including 52 officers, took the option of early retirement.

Hadley said the city will stagger the retirements over the next two years, so not all employees leave at the same time. This way, the city hopes that the shortage of workers will be less noticeable.

Hadley said this move will come with some challenges, "When you talking about losing 25% of your organization as a whole over two years that is a huge impact in many ways, it's a challenge there is no book to look at and say this is how we did it last time."

One of the biggest obstacles he can foresee is overcoming a lack of experience.  Hadley says some of the people stepping down are taking 20 to 25 years of experience with them.

"As we transition over the next 24 months it's replacing that institutional knowledge that I think is going to be the biggest challenge," said Hadley.

His department isn't the only area losing employees.

Kalamazoo's Human Resources Director Jerome Post said there are 265 city employees across the board that are eligible for the early retirement.  He said anyone who could have retired at the end of 2015 can instead retire now and essentially receive the same 2015 pension.

He said the city has an over-funded pension fund and this option is better than laying off city workers.

Hadley said he some, not all of the vacancies in the Department of Public Safety will be filled however.

"We've already been through a hiring process.  We're going to facilitate another one in order to get the best and brightest for Kalamazoo so we looking forward to that," said Hadley.