‘Early retirement’ factor in LCUB savings

Farragut Press

With an “assumption” that six Lenoir City Utilities Board employees will accept early retirement incentives, an annual “company-wide” savings of at least $197,000 will result.

Board members unanimously passed “the first amendment to the LCUB employees retirement plan” during its meeting in City Hall, Lenoir City, Monday afternoon, Sept. 19.

Total annual cost for these six employees — which includes wages, benefits and vehicular expenses — is valued at roughly $529,000, LCUB general manager Shannon Littleton said.

To replace these six employees “under the new scheme, the new pay scales without the [same] insurance you’re talking about, all the reduction in benefits” would be around $332,000, Littleton added.

The $197,000 savings likely will increase, Littleton added after the meeting, because “we’re probably not going to replace all six. We’re probably going to replace, in the future, probably three or four of those.”

As for the early retiree candidates, “There may be seven, there may be five; we’re assuming six,” Littleton said.

An estimated $715,258 one-time early retirement incentive payment to the six, who have anywhere from two to seven years left before normal retirement age according to Littleton, would be added to their regular retirement benefits.

However, Littleton announced to the board that “roughly $215,000” in annual savings would result from two anticipated incentive retirees in gas, water and sewer departments.

Among the board-approved changes, “New employees that are hired will have to pay a monthly, I call it premium” of $100 per single employee, $175 monthly for an employee with one dependant, and $250 monthly for an employee under a family plan, Littleton said.

Also, spouses of newly hired employees will no longer have LCUB health insurance coverage until Medicare age.

“I’m proud of this board for stepping up and making these changes,” Littleton said after the meeting.

An important element in the process, Littleton said, was clarifying language where LCUB no longer “recognizes a qualified domestic relations order,” which divides up retirement plan dollars among spouses of LCUB employees involved in divorce proceedings.

Though such dividing of retirement dollars has been against state law since 1977 — “unless the order is for child support” — Littleton admitted he didn’t realize this until “about a year ago,” as LCUB has finally stopped dividing up divorce case retirement dollars.

However, “As of yet, nobody has been paid under these orders,” Littleton said after the meeting.

LCUB has a handful of qualified domestic relations order cases tied up in court, Littleton said.

New clarified language was adopted with unanimous board approval.