The Jackson County Commission voted to opt in to Tier 1 retirement at its meeting Monday afternoon.

The commission discussed the issue at its work session last week. This has been a topic of discussion during meetings when the issue of employee turnover rate is brought up. The commission believes that opting into Tier 1 retirement will give employees more of an incentive to stay with the county.

Commission Chairman Tim Guffey said the county would be looking at approximately $29,302 cost per year by opting in.

At the work session, District 2 Commissioner Jason Venable recommended the commission opt in because the county’s employee turnover rate is so high. District 1 Commissioner Danny Rich said the commission has to do something to try and retain its employees.

County Personnel Director Michele Willis said she sent out an email to department heads with the information last week, and she received no negative feedback from them or county employees.

Willis said this would allow the county to give Tier 1 benefits to Tier 2 employees. The number the county was quoted is based on the number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees the county currently has. She said the number could change based on the amount of Tier 1 employees that retire and the amount of Tier 2 employees the county hires. About 35% of the county’s employees are Tier 2. With Tier 2 retirement, Willis said employees have to contribute more, work longer and will draw less.

The Tier 1 contribution rate for the employer will go up .2%, and the Tier 2 contribution rate for the employer will go up .97%. The only drawback is that the employee contribution will also increase. It will affect the employee’s paycheck. Willis said the average would be about $30 every paycheck. She doesn’t think employees will object to better benefits, but she said the only problem is that it will cost them a little more.

Employees will not be able to choose whether they want Tier 1 or Tier 2 retirement benefits.

Guffey said the commission had to opt in because surrounding counties and municipalities were as well.

“The cities and counties around us are going to Tier 1, and they can pay more,” said Guffey. “We had to opt in to help retain the employees we have.”

Guffey said it would be an added benefit for county employees.

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