City grants Tier I retirement status to employees

City of Oneonta

A vote by Oneonta city officials to adopt a resolution to allow all Tier II status employees to gain Tier I status regarding retirement was recently approved. Adoption of this resolution will enable the city to improve benefits for current employees, as well as be a major selling point for any new hirees.

Legislation that went into effect Oct. 1, 2013, stipulated that new hires would only have retirement options at age 62 (age 56 for state police and certified, full-time firefighters and law enforcement officers). And, retirement benefits would be drastically reduced. Prior to the 2013 legislation, city, county, and state employees could retire at any age after 25 years of service or at age 60 with 10 years of service.

Many employees and municipalities were unhappy with the 2013 legislation. With benefit decreases, some employees looked at other work options and recruiting new employees became more difficult with the less lucrative benefits. Many felt the impact of the negative change.

Because of the negative impact, officials took a look at possible options, and ACT 2019-132 came into existence. Now local employers participating in Employee’s Retirement System can adopt a resolution to provide Tier I retirement status benefits to Tier II members.

What does this mean? Employees will benefit from the new status, as well as the city, who can better compete with larger municipalities in recruiting employees. Human resource manager Dalton Farmer said, “It makes a big difference. It is important to have quality employees for our citizens and taxpayers. It’s a win-win for all.”

With the adoption of the resolution, employees will have better retirement options and better retirement benefits. Yes, regular employees will have to pay a 7.5 percent contribution rate toward retirement, while firefighters and law enforcement officers will have to contribute 8.5 percent, but the overall benefits are considered well worth it by most. The City of Oneonta will also pay an increased contribution, but also believes it is well worth the investment.

The Blount County Commission and Town of Blountsville have passed resolutions granting Tier I status for their Tier II employees. Other Blount County municipalities have plans to discuss the matter in future meetings.