Supervisor's Corner: The Only Constant in Life is Change - Retiring Town of Webster Personnel
By Webster Town Supervisor Tom Flaherty
***PLEASE NOTE: Previously, these columns have been edited for grammar/spelling/proper formatting purposes. However, this column has NOT been edited, and it appears as originally written by the supervisor.***
COVID 19 has "changed" us all. It has changed our day to day lives in ways we could have never imagined. Things we took for granted were taken away like eating out at a Restaurant, working out at a gym, or visiting a grandparent. It has also made all of us rethink our life priorities. For many Town of Webster dedicated employees this meant deciding to retire in the past year. At the time this article was written, approx. 15-20 employees had officially retired since January 1, 2020, and another 5-10 are considering it. God bless em! When they made the decision years ago to be a government employee and not go into the private sector, they most likely discerned the pros and cons of each. A big "pro" of government employment at that time was the "time in service" escalator at various milestone years as it pertains to your pension. Simply said, the longer you work, the bigger your pension is.
Now I don't portend to know the "personal" reasons each of these people decided to retire. Some of them back in 2019 had officially stated they were retiring in 2020 due to hitting a milestone of 20 or 25 years in service. What all of them have in common is that they are "young"... at least my perception of what "young" is!(LOL) They all seem to be in that 55-65 year old range. They all have 20-30+ years in and had an attractive pension sysem in place when they were hired. Some have told me that they did not want the call at 1:30AM anymore to "get out there and plow the roads". Some have told me that their children and/or grand children situation makes them want to spend more time with them. Some have told me that COVID made them question their priorities going forward.
To me, and the Town of Webster, ALL of these retirees have a bittersweet aspect. The "bitter" part is the institutional knowledge these people take with them that the town is losing. Also, as i got to know many of them in the past year plus, the fine human beings they are will be sorely missed. Some of that "bitter" has been assuaged by bringing them back in a part time status to help with certain projects. I've found that structure to be a "win-win" for the town and the retiree! The "sweet" part is that there is opportunity in change. This opportunity manifests itself most at the top of the Organizational chart with the fourteeen (14) department heads. In the past 13 months since I became Town Supervisor, there have been seven (7) of these department heads who are different now, or soon to be based on official retirements. These changes at the top were due to 4 retirements, 1 resignation due to what I perceived as "Covid related", and 2 Management driven changes. If Organizational Structure is "solid", transition of leadership in these departments is much easier. Solid Organizational Structure assures policies, procedures and job duties are well documented. It also means that the people IN the department have a say in how the department is structured and run day to day. It also means that professional development within the department had been committed to, and very possibly the next department head/leader comes from within. Finally, a change at the top gives the opportunity to "assess what works, and what needs to change". Simply said... what worked in 1990 and was implemented then, may not make sense in 2021 and needs to change.
In conclusion, there is one thing that has really bothered me about "how we have sent off" the 15-20 retirees. Simply said.... they got VERY little pomp and circumstance and I don't like that. In one case back in June 2020, I felt like it was an act of congress to get an "outside in open air, 20 person mid day coffee and cake" for a retiree on her last day. These people have given 20-30+ years of service to the town. They deserve better. As such, we are committed to holding a BIG retirement gala for ALL retirees since March 2020 once the "world opens back up". Prelmininary plan is to have it "outside with open wing tents at the Rec Center". Stay tuned for more info on this since we can't really set a date until the world opening back up supports an event this size. In the meantime, ENJOY your new life recent Town of Webster retirees!
As always, if you want to reach me, please call (585) 872-7068 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.