Wilkes-Barre Retirement Plan Falls Short

WILKES-BARRE — Tuesday at noon was the deadline for eligible Wilkes-Barre city employees to sign up for early retirement.

The plan came from city leaders late last week in an attempt to prevent layoffs before the end of the year.

Only 11 city employees took the deal for the early retirement plan, much fewer than city officials had hoped for.

According to a city spokesperson, 51 employees were eligible and now layoffs are likely.

It was supposed to be a last-minute deal to help the cash-strapped city of Wilkes-Barre avoid layoffs before the holidays, but according to city officials the plan fell short.

Late last week, Mayor Tom Leighton offered a plan for eligible employees to take early retirement, but of the 51 workers who could have signed up, only 11 did.

According to the city spokesperson the retirees include four firefighters, two police officers, two department of public works employees, and four others.

The plan was offered to help Wilkes-Barre make up a $2 million budget shortfall in the final weeks of this year. But now, city officials say there will have to be layoffs within the next few days and they could come from any department including fire, police, and the department of public works.

City officials tell Newswatch 16 those layoffs will be announced as soon as possible and will likely be known by the end of this week

City officials said they want to thank the 11 employees who retired, and it will help ease the $2 million shortfall.

Officials also say it’s too soon to know if those positions will be replaced next year.

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