City offering Tucson police, fire employees hefty retirement bonus

Up to 35 Tucson police and fire employees could receive a $50,000 cash bonus if they decide to take the city up on an early retirement offer.

The incentive package, which was discussed by Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and the Tucson City Council during a Wednesday study session, also includes sick-leave payout for 100 percent of the employee’s accrued hours and an optional medical subsidy to pay for health insurance premiums for up to three years.

The package is designed to “streamline operations and modify the work-force composition” in the Tucson Police and Fire departments, City Manager Mike Ortega wrote in a memo.

For the Police Department, the incentive will only be available to sergeants, lieutenants, captains and assistant chiefs and will be capped at 10 sergeants and 13 commanders, the memo said.

In the Fire Department, captains, battalion chiefs, deputy chiefs and assistant chiefs are eligible for the incentive package, which will be capped at 10 captains and two chiefs.

The anticipated cost for sick-leave payout plus the $50,000 bonus would be about $65,083 per police employee and $82,498 per fire employee, according to the memo.

The medical subsidy would cost $28,800 per employee.

Based on the assumption that 12 employees would retire from each department, the total cost of the package would be about $2.5 million, Ortega wrote in the memo.

The anticipated savings from creating vacancies depends on the action taken by each department, Ortega said. The plan is for the Fire Department to use the savings to convert commissioned positions to civilian positions, according to the memo.

“It is not my intent to convert every single vacancy into a civilian position,” Ortega said during the study session. “This is consistent with what we’ve talked about for about a year and a half, to really challenge vacancies across the board and particularly in the public safety ranks, where there may be opportunity to look at civilians providing services that are currently provided by commissioned personnel.”

No savings are projected during the first year, but Ortega described the action as “an investment in future year savings.”…

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