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ECC offers second round of early retirement buyouts

Qualifying faculty, administrative staff and senior executive staff at Erie Community College will be offered incentives of up to $45,000 to retire by the end of 2016, under plans approved this week by the college’s trustees.

The incentives will apply to faculty, administrative staff and executive staff who have at least 20 years of service at the college and whose age and years of service combined equal at least 80 years. The $1 million that Erie County provided to the college for the buyouts would cover less than a fifth of the 118 employees who are eligible. If more employees agree to take the buyout than the funds allow, the college will limit the buyouts to employees with the highest combined years of service and age, unless the trustees make more funds available.

Employees will have until Sept. 30 to notify the college of their intent to take the incentives and retire.

It’s the second time in less than a year the college will offer early retirement buyouts. Last December, the college, with help from the county, spent $1.8 million on buyouts for 51 faculty and staff.

The college has been trying to slash costs as slumping enrollment cuts its tuition, which accounts for more than 40 percent of ECC’s revenue.

The number of full-time equivalent students at ECC has dipped from 12,075 in 2010-11 to 9,392 in the last academic year, and college officials project it will continue to fall for another two years before leveling off. The college is raising tuition by 3 percent for the coming school year, using some of its savings account and eliminating 50 vacant jobs to balance the budget for 2016-17.

Last year’s buyouts helped ward off a more dire fiscal outlook, with the college shedding millions of dollars in salaries and healthcare costs.

“It was a very significant financial savings for the institution,” said Wiliam Reuter, ECC’s chief financial officer.

The college will know in November how many employees will retire under the incentive plan.

The incentive plan is one-half of an employee’s 2015-16 base salary, to a maximum of $40,000, with an additional payment of $500 for each full year in situations where an employee’s age plus service calculation exceeds 80 years, capped at $5,000.

email: jtokasz@buffnews.com