Ingham County officials propose hiring freeze to offset pension fund requirements

(WLNS) – Ingham County officials have 5 years to save $10 million for retirement pension plans.

Officials are trying to reach that goal by proposing a hiring freeze, which they are holding an initial vote for Tuesday night.

It’s a problem facing municipalities across the country. A new requirement to have enough money on reserve to pay all possible pensions at any given time.

It’s a result of changing insurance requirements and in Ingham County that means an extra $2 million a year for at least the next 5 years.

“When you have one cost coming in, you got to take it out somewhere else,” Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing said.

Schertzing says with an extra $10 million needed by 2021 for pension plans, there have to be cuts somewhere.

“Employees are our biggest cost.”

Ingham County Controller Tim Dolehanty agrees. he says a hiring freeze is the best solution.

“There’s a tendency to not want to cut services, like not cut entire programs if we can help it.”

But Schertzing says this freeze would mean fewer hands on deck, with more responsibilities.

“Work is either going to be rearranged or lessened, or the people that are there are going to have to do more,” Schertzing explained.

The freeze doesn’t cover every job. 911 dispatchers and those who work in the county jail would not be affected.

“We simply cannot cut those positions,” Dolehanty said.

Even if a hiring freeze goes through, that doesn’t mean current employees won’t also be let go.

“Everybody wants to keep their current staff but that just isn’t going to be possible over the next five years.”

While the new requirement does guarantee workers pensions will be there when they want them, Dolehanty says its just unnecessary and will make everyone’s jobs harder.

“We’re not going to have one hundred percent of our employees retire tomorrow and demand complete payout, it doesn’t work that way.”

The official approval by the County Board of Commissioners will be decided next Tuesday.


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