by Jeff Osborne
he city of Kenedy has a couple of new tools to attract and retain employees, as the City Council approved full retirement after 20 years of service and a 2 to 1 match in retirement funds for city workers.
City Manager William Linn said the move will help Kenedy to bring in and keep quality employees, and credited the efforts of City Secretary Ruby Bevan in helping to research the proposals, based on her previous experience in working with the Texas Municipal Retirement System.
“I’d like to see us go from a 1 to 1 match (meaning the city contributes $1 for every dollar employees contribute to their retirement fund, up to a certain cap) to a 2 to 1 match and 20-year retirement,” Linn told the Council.
He said that only 240 of 886 Texas municipalities required employees to work for 25 years at their city job before they could retire, while two-thirds of municipalities offered retirement after 20 years of service.
“We are kind of behind the times, and it’s time for us to move from 25 to 20 – it’s good for employee morale,” Linn said.
“One of our challenges has been employee retention,” said Mayor Joe Baker.
“I don;t believe this will just help with employee retention, it will help with employee attraction as well,” Linn said. “Two of our employees would be affected immediately. I don’t know if they will choose to stay or not.
The Council approved the proposal by a 4-0 vote, with Council members Chris Parker, Cindy Saenz, Saundra Schultz and James Douglas voting for the measure. Councilman Johnny Rodriguez was not present at the meeting, and the mayor does not cast a vote.
By the same vote, the Council approved switching to a 2 to 1 employee retirement contribution match. Employees are required to contribute at least 5 percent of their salaries to the retirement fund.
With the benefit of interest, Linn said the change means that for every $5 an employee puts into the retirement fund, the city will actually contribute $15.
“We are actually investing in employees (with the retirement contributions),” Linn said.
He noted that about two-thirds of the state’s municipalities match retirement funds on a 2 to 1 basis.
“It takes money out of our coffers, yes, but we have to invest in employees,” Linn said. “This is one way we invest financially in our team members. Of all the assets an organization can have, not a single asset is greater than the employees.”
Councilman Parker asked if the new 2 to 1 match rate would start Sept. 1.
“No it can only begin Jan. 1 of next year,” Linn said.
“How many years until an employee is 100 percent vested (able to keep the matching funds contributed by the city)?” Councilwoman Schultz asked.
“Five,” Linn answered.
“I think we’re all in favor of seeing a higher quality of service,” Baker said. “It’s important to build a good team to do what needs to be done.”