Commissioners vote yes to increase retirement bonuses, claim they didn’t know

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Guilford County Commissioners approved a change for early retirement bonuses they claimed they didn't know about.

In March, the Board approved lifting a $16,500 cap on the early retirement bonus program for county employees.  In its place, employees will receive four months of their salaries, which will cost the county a lot more money up front.

"It wasn't spoken about at the agenda meeting so I can't help but think it wasn't purposely hidden in the consent agenda," said Guilford County Commissioner Paul Gibson.

"It's my responsibility as an elected official to read my agenda before I get to the meeting," said Guilford County Board of Commissioners Chairman, Skip Alston, who helped draft the consent agenda.

"Nine (or) ten other county commissioners couldn't find it either and I think that speaks volumes," said Gibson.

Before the cap was removed, employees who had worked for Guilford County for 30 years or more, received up to $16,500 as part of the county's incentive plan to get people to retire early. 

Since that cap has been lifted employees who notified human resources by May 1 that they planned to retire early will receive four months of their salary.

"Before we had a cap of $16,500 there wasn't too many takers.  So the HR dept said well why don't we try to entice them a little bit more, give them a four months service package and then see how many will retire," said Alston.

So far 22 employees, including the County Manager, Brenda Jones Fox have told HR they plan to retire.

Four months salary for Fox is a little more than $61,000.

Board Chairman Skip Alston says lifting the cap saves the county at least $268,000 because more employees plan to retire and those positions will be vacant for at least four to six months.

Even though Gibson voted against the consent agenda, he said if he had known about the item, he would've questioned it.

"It was wrong on a lot of different levels.  It was wrong to have done it this way," said Gibson.

Gibson said he plans to make a motion to reconsider the item at the County Commissioners meeting on June 7.