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Cape council to consider employee furloughs

By Staff | Sep 18, 2010

Seventy-eight non-bargaining city employees who make more than $50,000 a year could see furloughs next year if approved by council.
City council is set to discuss Ordinance 78-10 at its workshop Monday, an ordinance that would mandate employees who make between $50,000 – $74,999 to take 16 hours of unpaid time off , and employees who make more than $75,000 to take 32 hours in unpaid time off, in FY 2011.
The furloughs would be temporary, if approved, and would likely come on top of 6.7 percent in payroll reductions recently proposed by City Manager Gary King.
Councilmember Bill Deile said the furloughs would affect “upper management people”, and the city’s Human Resources and Legal departments.
He said the furloughs are a left over idea from when Carl Schwing was city manager, and have now been brought back as a means to create parity among bargaining and non-bargaining employees.
Unionized employees have also faced furloughs.
“It’s a carry over from prior (budgeting) efforts,” Deile said. “It’s a way to effect some degree of parity. We require union people to take furloughs, but it’s not required of non union people.”
Deile said he did not know the number of employees it would affect, nor what the potential cost savings would be for the city.
He said he’s in favor of the furlough program, but realizes it does have drawbacks when “key people” like the city attorney or the head of human resources are involved.
“If we have an issue that requires their involvement, it would have to wait,” Deile said.
With employees still reeling over the potential wage reductions, Councilmember Marty McClain said furloughs would add fuel to the fire.
He said he would have difficulty supporting furloughs without a clear cut plan of how cost savings are to be achieved, and that furloughs would do nothing but attack employee morale.
“I’m not going to agree until we have some definitive guidelines on how we’re going to implement these changes,” he said. “We’re screwing around with people’s lives, with their families.”
Mayor John Sullivan said that due to a rigorous meeting schedule this week he had not had time to examine the ordinance or the workshop agenda. He declined comment.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail could not be reached for comment.
City council meets 4:30 at city hall on Monday.