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Rapid City Council OKs voluntary retirement buyout program

RAPID CITY (AP) -- The Rapid City Council has approved a voluntary retirement buyout program for long-term city employees that Mayor Steve Allender says could save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.

RAPID CITY (AP) - The Rapid City Council has approved a voluntary retirement buyout program for long-term city employees that Mayor Steve Allender says could save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.

One out of every eight city employees is eligible, and the program targeting employees at the higher end of the pay scale could be a simple way to trim labor costs, according to Allender.

The council on Monday approved the one-time program in a unanimous vote, though one member expressed worries about the possibility of losing too many experienced employees.

"I'm just kind of concerned about the knowledge base that these people would take with them, and just replacing them might take a little bit longer than you would hope," Councilwoman Darla Drew said. "The savings might not be the only thing you are looking at here. That's hard to measure."

Full-time employees with at least 20 years of city experience who are eligible under the South Dakota Retirement System can receive three months of bonus pay in exchange for retiring by the end of the year. The city employs nearly 800 people, and nearly 100 are eligible.

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The maximum $1.5 million cost of the buyout could be recovered in less than two years, according to Jeff Barbier, director of the Community Resources Department.

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Discussion will take place during the 6 p.m. meeting on Monday at City Hall