401(k) boost considered by officials

By: Brenda J.  Buote
The Baltimore Sun, June 8, 2001

Part of an effort to attract, retain government workers; 'Broaden their options'; Plan would trim wait time to invest, years to be vested

In an effort to attract and retain government workers, the Carroll commissioners are considering a proposal that would enhance the county's 401(k) retirement plan. 

"I am especially concerned about people at the lower end of the pay scale, who may not have much money to invest," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell. "These improvements would broaden their options." 

Under the proposal, Carroll employees would be able to contribute to the 401(k) retirement immediately, and would be eligible to receive the maximum match in county dollars after three years. The match is equivalent to up to 6 percent of the employee's annual salary, depending on the amount the employee contributes. After two years of service, employees would be vested in the county match - meaning they will receive those county dollars when they leave their job. 

New employees must wait six months before they can contribute to the 401(k) plan, and must work for the county 10 years to receive the maximum match. In addition, it takes five years for an employee to be vested in the county match. 

"We would like to encourage our employees to start investing right away, so they can save more for retirement," said Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier. Board President Julia Walsh Gouge did not attend the meeting. 

Residents are invited to comment on the proposal during a public hearing at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Room 300A of the County Office Building, 225 N. Center St., Westminster. 

The commissioners have been working on the proposed changes for several months, according to Carole Hammen, Carroll's human resources director. It was not clear yesterday how much the revisions would cost the county.

"I don't have a breakdown of the costs, but we believe these enhancements will help attract new employees and retain the workers we already have," Hammen said. "This will help us compete in the market." 

The 401(k) plan is the only retirement benefit offered to Carroll's nearly 800 employees. The county ended its participation in the state pension plan in 1984. The three-member board is looking at other retirement programs. 

"We're working on having a good retirement plan and exploring other options," said Frazier. "Maybe it will be some combination of a 401(k) plan and a pension program. At this point, we're not sure. We're still doing research." 

Global Action on Aging
PO Box 20022, New York, NY 10025
Phone: +1 (212) 557-3163 - Fax: +1 (212) 557-3164
Email: globalaging@globalaging.org


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