It's out with the old and in with the new at Sioux Falls City Hall. A large number of city employees are retiring early because of changes in their pension plans and health benefits. While that may sound startling, it's actually good news for the retirees and the city.
In one of his final duties with the Sioux Falls Police Department, Lt. Jerome Miller is looking to make graphic changes to the new fleet of police motorcycles.
Miller was facing mandatory retirement at the end of October, but decided to cash in early after the city offered eligible employees early retirement.
"We don't know how many years we have on this planet, some people get six months, some people get 20 years, some people get 100 years, just never know," Miller said.
Miller isn't the only one who's retiring.
"With the pension reform plan we made last year, it was an incentive for a lot of people that would normally retire in 2013, to hold off and retire in 2014," Human Resource Director Bill O'Toole said.
Those retirees will be given a stipend which will help them pay for their health insurance. But because new employees will fall under the state pension plan, instead of the city, it's a huge cost saving move.
"There's going to be considerable savings over the next 30 years because of the pension reform changes we were able to make over the last year and a half. We're estimating about $300 million in savings," O'Toole said.
O'Toole says departments anticipated a mass exodus because of the changes, so they've been preparing.
"We're going to be very busy in the employment area, but the citizens are not going to see any changes in service level," O'Toole said.
But for retirees including Miller, instead of patrolling the streets of Sioux Falls, he'll just be on easy street.
"I want to do some traveling and things like that, so we're going to retire this much earlier, it'll be one additional summer that I will have not working hopefully," Miller said.
The city says 35 employees will be retired between now and mid-March; that's twice as many as normal.