Town trims workforce by four jobs
A consolidation of positions — mostly through retirements — will reduce the town’s workforce by a total of four employees, with three full-time and two half-time jobs eliminated.
The savings to the town, in salary and benefits cost, is expected to run in vicinity of half a million dollars a year.
“We’re pulling that together now,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said, “but it’s well into the six figures.”
Retirements effective Aug. 31 include: a full-time position in the building department; a full-time position in purchasing; and a full-time building maintenance position at parks and recreation.
In addition, two administrative positions that are held by members of the secretarial union, the SEIU, are being reduced from full time to half time — one in the fire department and one in the tax collector’s office.
There are some other positions — including the town clerk and the town engineer — where people are retiring but they will be replaced and the departments will not have a reduction in workforce.
A total of eight people will be retiring, Marconi said.
“We offered them 75% of their salaries as a bonus to retire — which was approved by the Board of Selectmen,” Marconi said.
“We had four union and four non-union people take retirements under this incentive.”
As part of the consolidation, some people remaining with the town in departments that were not reduced will be taking on additional roles and duties.
The people retiring — many of them longtime town employees — had “mixed emotions” about the changes, Marconi said.
“It’s a major decision in your life,” Marconi said. “That decision to not work is a major one to make.
“I certainly sympathize with people who feel that they have a lot more in them — and they do,” he added.
“They are all extremely competent and have a lot of offer. And the town of Ridgefield is extremely lucky to have had all of them making it a better place for all of us. And we thank them for that.”
Not everyone took the incentive.
“There are people who could have retired and chose not to,” Marconi said. “There were about four or five people who could have retired.”
By law, people who sign retirement agreements have seven days to change their minds, and those seven days have passed, Marconi said.
Marconi said the Board of Selectmen had been working for months with Director of Human Resources Laurie Fernandez to assemble a consolidation and retirement incentive package that made sense for the town and would be attractive to employees.
“We’ve had quite a few executive sessions over the last year about this, working with our human resources director,” Marconi said.
“I’d posed a question to the board well over a year ago,” he said. “What would it look like, a consolidation of positions that would trigger some dollar savings?”
The Board of Selectmen decided they would be interested in consolidating the workforce through retirements.
Marconi said part of the motivation comes from recent federal income tax changes which he expects will hit Ridgefield taxpayers hard.
“We’re looking at a federal tax plan that is going to be reducing our residents’ disposable income — and the Board of Selectmen wants everyone to know we’re doing everything within our reach to control spending in an effort to reduce any increase,” Marconi said.
The town’s total workforce — excluding Board of Education employees — is about 175 or 180 positions year-round, and increases to about 215 in the summer with seasonal help including lifeguards and camp counselors at parks and recreation, Marconi said.
“Regular full time is about 175,” he said. “We go up quite a bit in the summer.”