ST. CLOUD -- A change in early retirement rules for Minnesota firefighters and police officers has cities across the state preparing for an unusually high number of retirements.

Changes in the Public Employees Retirement Association pension plans will financially impact those employees between the ages of 50 and 55 who choose to retire early.

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis says this will be a statewide problem where qualified candidates will be in demand.  St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis says they are aware of the changes and have been proactive in making sure their departments don't fall below the minimum level of officers.

Kleis says the impact to the departments won't be known until closer to the May 31st deadline. But, he says he's not too concerned about the fire department as they have a younger staff.

The state legislature changed the pension rules which will gradually increase the penalty for early retirement. Currently, PERA members who retire early pay a 1.2% penalty for each year. The penalty will be increased to 5% per year over the next five years.