Williamsburg County Government plans to offer employees eligible for Social Security to retire. County Supervisor Tiffany Wright said the reason is simple, save money. Council voted first reading on an ordinance to implement a voluntary separation program for eligible employees due to the financial impact of COVID-19 and its effect on the economy and incurred loss of revenues, better known as a retirement incentive plan.

Electing employees will receive a lump sum incentive payment based on years of service in the amount of one week of pay for every two years of the employee’s most recent uninterrupted full­ time service to the County, up to a maximum of 15 weeks of pay.

They also will receive a subsidy in an amount equal to the employer’s share of the electing employee’s active health insurance premium at the time of election for 24 months.

Wright said if everyone takes advantage of the plan the county is expected to save $1 million annually. She said financial advisors have forecasted a potential 15% reduction in revenues as a result in the pandemic. “That reduction will greatly impact budgets that are already extremely tight because of the prior year’s budget issues we experienced,“ she said. “This is a means to try to look at not just dealing with COVID, but long term.”

Wright said the county will save money, even if some employees are allowed to return on a part-time basis. “They would return at the starting rate for that position. We won’t have to pay as much for salaries or medical insurance, other than the medical insurance that we’re paying while they’re on social security.” She added that certain positions, such as public safety would return to a full-time job.

Wright said her goal is to reduce the Tax Anticipation Note or TAN, short-term debt the county relies on each year to finance operations before tax revenues are received. “If I can generate savings, at least a fund balance, then that’s less money we have to borrow,” she said. Council will vote on second reading at the next meeting.