Ocean City Today

Resort gets ready for retirements as employees age out

By Katie Tabeling | Nov 09, 2017

(Nov, 10, 2017) Ocean City is facing having to fill five positions, including high-ranking posts such as deputy public works director and finance administrator, as several employees are retiring.

Public Works Deputy Director John VanFossen will retire on Jan. 31, the same day as Finance Administrator Martha Bennett will step down. The starting salary range for both positions is $73,355 and $93,622, respectively.

To date, 15 city employees have retired, surpassing last year’s total retirement rate of nine staff members.

Public Works is also hiring a small equipment mechanic and a warehouse technician. Police Accountant and Fiscal Supervisor Yetive King will also retire, but city officials elected to transfer Human Resources Specialist Karin Scott to fill the position. That will free up another job.

Human Resources Director Wayne Evans said that he expects some of the police command staff to retire soon, including Lt. Mark Pacini who patrols the Boardwalk.

The slight uptick in retirements is part of what Evans considers the “organizational life cycle” – the workforce ages, and new faces come in while older ones move out.

“I think we’re seeing the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation,” he said. “It’s not unique to the Town of Ocean City, but we have a demographic that is at retirement age.”

“It’s something we’ve seen coming and continue to see in the next five years, with various directors eligible to retire,” Communications Manager Jessica Waters said. “We’ve been preparing for this, going back three strategic planning sessions.”

One way the city has prepared for the retirements is continuing to fund the pension plans for public safety and general employees at recommended amounts. In September, the council agreed to fund both accounts at $7.94 million.

Until 2011, all general employees enjoyed a defined benefit system in which retirees were guaranteed a certain amount of retirement income.

To minimize the city’s financial risk, the City Council voted to close this plan for new hires after April 2011. Those employees are set up with an individual 401(a) account. In turn, the city then raised its amortization payments, contributing a level amount over a 10-year period.

Police and fire employees, who have a separate fund, contribute eight percent of their pay, and the city matched the contribution. Upon retirement, public safety employees continue to receive 60 percent of their salary if they served for 25 years.

Ocean City officers can also participate in the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP), where they can continue to work for another three years but would collect the benefit amount at the date they registered.

Under the current fire union contract, the DROP plan was offered for a limited time. Eight fire department members enrolled in the program, Evans said.

A previous version of this article stated that Payroll Specialist Karin Scott will retire, not Police Accountant and Fiscal Supervisor Yetive King. Scott will be promoted/transferred to King's position. We apologize for the error.

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