Seventeen people who are employed by South Whitehall have been offered early retirement packages, township Manager Jon Hammer confirmed Monday.
Among those, Finance Director Linda Perry has decided to take early retirement, ending a 41-year career with the township that began the day after she graduated from William Allen High School in Allentown.
"It's been a wonderful journey," Perry said Monday, adding that it's "very very emotional" to leave the job after so many years there.
Several of the township employees who were offered early retirements are still contemplating their decision, Hammer said. The employees have another month to voluntarily decide whether to accept the package.
Hammer did not disclose who had been offered early retirement, but he said the offers were made to employees in the public works, finance and economic development areas.
"This will be a personal choice for those who want to take it," Hammer said. "Some it may work for, and some it may not work for, and that's fine with whatever they choose."
No police officers were offered early retirement, and although police officers may be retiring this year, the force will remain at 37 officers.
"It was a good opportunity," Perry said, in explaining her decision to take an early retirement. "I was ready to leave."
Still, she said, "It's difficult. I can't even believe today is my last day."
Perry had started with South Whitehall as a receptionist, when the township building was located on Main Street in Guthsville. Within six months, she was put in charge of water and sewer accounts. After about 10 years, she moved to accounts payable, then purchasing. In 1994, as the township and its government grew, she was named finance director.
She said she has formed many friendships with residents and business owners through her jobs with the township.
Perry said she had no immediate plans -- other than to organize her house and to train her 3-year-old Golden Retriever, Logan. "He's a totally out-of-control Golden Retriever," she said.
South Whitehall is offering the early retirements in an effort to reduce township staff in the face of a challenging economy. At a commissioners' meeting in February, Hammer said would help put South Whitehall on a path to financial stability. Salaries and benefits account for 79 percent of the township budget.
The township has about 108 full-time employees.
The township in more than two decades. Hammer that the commissioners would need to consider raising real estate taxes or user fees in coming years because of the financial challenges.