More retirements by state workers, teachers in NY

New York’s large and expensive public payrolls are starting to decline, pared down by more baby boomers hitting retirement age, special retirement incentives offered last year and renewed pressure to cut spending that are all starting to cut costs for taxpayers.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund for state and local governments reported processing a record 30,772 retirement applications in 2010, compared with about 20,000 annually for the past two decades. Fund officials attributed 12,000 to the retirement incentives.

Wildlife biologist Al Hicks retired last year after 34 years at the Department of Environmental Conservation, where he was studying widespread deaths of hibernating bats in New York. At 57, he believed there would still be opportunities to get work and make up the $15,000 difference between the pension and salary of $65,192. He used the incentive to get three years of retirement credit.

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