The prospect of losing payouts for unused sick days and vacation apparently caused a stampede to the oor last year for employees at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

The authority's executive director tells The Asbury Park Press that 372 people retired last year as lawmakers began examining ways to end or reduce the payouts by public agencies.

Veronique Hakim says that's about nine times more employees than would retire in a normal year, and it represented 17 percent of the authority's workforce.

The payouts to the retirees amounted to about $15 million.

Hakim says that even with the payouts, the authority was able to save $10 million compared to the previous year by renegotiating a two-year contract with toll collectors.

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