Metro Turns 50, Offers Employees Early Retirement - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Metro Turns 50, Offers Employees Early Retirement

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By Adam Ghassemi

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It's been 50 years since Nashville and Davidson County consolidated. Metro is celebrating the milestone by giving nearly 1,600 employees the option to retire early.

"We want to do a good job today. We also want to look towards the future," Metro Director of Law Saul Solomon said Friday.

"In thinking about what kind of restructuring we wanted for the organization, for the city of the future it made sense to let the departments take a look at what they want to do, how they want to organize themselves in the future and this gives them a tool to help restructure some of their functions," he said.

This isn't Metro's first voluntary buy-out. Similar programs were offered in 1996 and 2004 when 440 employees retired, costing $6.3 million.

But those times were different.

"It signified that we had real financial problems and we needed to jettison some of our older, highest-paid, most highly compensated employees," said longtime Councilmember Charlie Tygard who wants to make sure this is about streamlining, and cycling people out.

"If that's the case it's a good investment. If it's just a case that we're going to buy-out some high-paid employees and put lower paid in and then four or five years from now when salaries rise we're back in the same position, then it may be something that needs closer scrutiny," Tygard said.

This retirement program could cost as much as $7 million, but officials say it will be "budget neutral" -- or pay for itself over time. Eligible employees could get $700 for every year of service, but if they take early retirement they'll never be able to work for Metro full-time again.

Most employees would have to be off the payroll by the end of February. Police and Firefighters could defer until next summer.

Right now this is just a proposal. Metro Council still has to approve it.

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