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WSU OKs retirement plan

Previous proposal garnered 47 applications

Several Washington State University employees will soon be able to retire early under a new plan.

WSU’s board of regents approved a Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive plan during its regularly scheduled meeting Friday at WSU-Tri-Cities.

“As with most organizations, we have a number of people who are eligible for this program, and as we are facing cuts in our budget, one of the ways you can absorb (the reductions) is by offering an early retirement,” Executive Director of External Communications Darin Watkins said.

Under the incentive, eligible employees – members of the WSU Retirement Plan – would receive a one-time cash benefit of $23,270, which could come up to $18,000 after taxes.

To be eligible to apply for the program, an employee must have been a member of the WSU Retirement Plan for at least 10 years and be 55 or older before the effective date of retirement. The employee must begin receiving a retirement payment as a result of retirement if younger than 62 and must separate from WSU service no later than Aug. 15.

The window for interested employees to apply for the incentive is from April 1 to June 30.

Watkins said he was not sure of the total number of employees who would be eligible to apply for this program. But, he said, the number is larger than those who are eligible to apply for the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Plan, which was approved by the board in late January.

“It looks very similar to the plan that was introduced before …,” he said. “It’s just a larger pool.”

Approximately 114 employees are eligible to apply for VRIP. This incentive is for employees who are participating in the retirement plans administered through the state Department of Retirement Systems.

VRIP also makes a one-time, pre-tax payment of $23,270 to an eligible employee. The window to apply for this program began in mid-February and will go through May 14.

Under this plan, employees must separate employment by June 30.

WSU Human Resource Services Assistant Director Lisa Gehring said 47 applications had been requested for the VRIP program as of Wednesday, and 15 of them had been approved.

“We are hoping we’ll see more,” she said. “We’ll send out more (information) in the hopes that more people will look into it.”

Gehring said some people will probably wait closer to the deadline to submit their application. She said she wasn’t sure how much the university will save from the program.

She said that at the end of the program, when they know exactly how many retirees there are, officials from HRS will send the information to the university’s budget office for calculations of salaries.

Gehring said it’s hard to tell how many employees will apply for the new program approved Friday.

Watkins said the new retirement incentive is a good opportunity for eligible employees.

“This can be a great advantage for them, and somewhat of an advantage for us,” he said, adding that it can take pressure off from other things that happen at the university because of budget cuts.