The executive director of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, along with its long time general counsel, will retire later this year.
Both Lawrence Meckler, the NFTA's executive director, and David Gregory, the authority's general counsel, will be leaving the agency in late October to take advantage of a handsome early retirement package New York state is offering employees in state agencies and authorities.
The issue of Meckler and Gregory retiring has been an underlying issue among NFTA commissioners for the past few months and came to a head during a heated special June 9 meeting that included an hour-long closed door session guarded by a authority police lieutenant.
"This is entirely by my choice," Meckler said.
Meckler and Gregory are highly regarded in the NFTA's downtown Buffalo headquarters and elsewhere in the community. Both are credited with running the authority on a tight fiscal course while increasing air service at Buffalo Niagara International Airport and Niagara Falls International Airport. The NFTA, on Monday, announced a new pricing scheme that drops the complicated zone and transfer system for a single, one price pays all ticket.
Meckler said the state early retirement package was "just too hard to pass up."
State workers can receive a 6 percent increase to their individual pensions, based on their years of service. In Meckler's case, he has worked 35 years for the public sector, including 33 years with the NFTA. Meckler has been its executive director for the past 13 years and before that was its general counsel and project manager.
Gregory replaced Meckler as its general counsel.
The NFTA commissioners agreed, earlier this month, to offer the state early retirement package to its employees for a three-month period beginning Aug. 15. The NFTA is expected to save $1 million this year and $1.5 million next year - mostly through salaries and benefits - for those opting for the retirement package.
Meckler confirmed he will remain with the authority through Oct. 29 as will Gregory.
A national search will start on July 1 to find replacements for Meckler and Gregory.
"The goal is to have my replacement in place by the end of October," Meckler said.