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28 take buyouts at Erie Community College

An early retirement incentive plan will cost Erie Community College $1.2 million, with 28 eligible faculty and staff electing to receive a half-year’s pay, up to $40,000, in exchange for leaving the college payroll by the end of 2016.

The buyouts are aimed at trimming personnel costs for the college, where declining enrollments over the past few years have led to a financial crunch.

The college is using a one-time $1 million allocation from Erie County legislators to help pay for the retirement packages, and college trustees on Tuesday authorized an additional $250,000 in college funds to be used toward the incentives.

It’s not clear yet how much the college ultimately will save with this buyout. Administrators projected that a previous incentive package in 2015 - which cost $1.8 million and netted 49 retirements - will result in annualized savings of about $500,000.

Employees whose combined age and years of service to the college equaled at least 80 years - 118 employees in all - had until Sept. 30 to express interest in the retirement incentive. They face a Nov. 10 deadline to make it official.

Twenty-three members of the ECC Faculty Federation, which represents about 900 faculty members, are expected to take the retirement incentive, along with five administrative staff.

The college relies on tuition and fees to cover more than 40 percent of its $108 million operating budget. Enrollment declines over the past several years have prompted tuition increases and use of college reserves, in addition to the retirement buyouts to trim costs.

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