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Peoria County Offers Buy-Out to Balance Budget

Peoria County hopes to reduce the number of employees it must layoff to balance its budget. The county board Thursday night approved a voluntary employee-buyout plan.

While 136 workers are eligible for the buy-out, county administrator Scott Sorrel expects only 25 to 30 employees will sign up. He says the plan offers a $10,000 cash payment plus another $10,000 in health benefits.

The health reimbursement account is a tax free or tax deferred going in and as long as you use it on qualified medical expenses such as premiums or out of pocket, it’s tax free as well.

The buy-out plan will affect departments differently. Sorrel says his department has no one eligible for the buy-out, so there will be a layoff there.

He says the sheriff has the largest department, with 41% of county personnel. The sheriff has been tasked with cutting $605,000 in costs.

So if he gets 8, 9, 10 employees to voluntarily take the incentive and retire, he may achieve or even over-achieve that target the county board has set for him and so there would be zero layoffs in his office.

Eligible employees must sign up by February 28th. The number of subsequent layoffs is dependent on the number of buy-outs. In total, the county must cut $2.5 million from its $41 million general fund. Any necessary layoffs will be effective March 31st.