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City employees will face furlough in 2010

The City Council approved next year’s round of furloughs for city employees Monday.

The agreement marks the second in a two-year contract negotiated in 2008, in which city employees will be forced to take 10 unpaid days off work in order to save money and avoid layoffs.

Prior to the meeting Monday, the council was made aware that the furloughs would not follow the traditional definition of unpaid days off.

Upon completion of the furloughs: the saved hours will be credited back to employees’ vacation time for 2011-12.

Several councilors were made uneasy by this revelation and attempted to have a decision on the furloughs delayed until the Dec. 2 meeting. That motion failed. The council passed the furloughs with four votes in favor, one against, and two abstaining.

Even the councilors who voted in favor of the furloughs were not in favor of the way they were negotiated.

“I would like to have the budget policies amended so in subesquent years it is council policy that furloughs not lead to deferrals,” councilor Barry Peters said.

Councilor Hilary Franz, who abstained from the vote, said the council needed more information about the future financial impact the deferrals would cause before making a decision.

“We don’t really have a clear sense of what the effects of this are,” she said.

Furlough dates are as follows:

Friday, Feb. 12

Friday, March 12

Monday, April 5

Friday, May 28

Friday, July 2

Friday, Aug. 6

Friday, Sept. 3

Monday, Oct. 11

Friday, Nov. 12

Thursday, Dec. 23

During these days, all but “essential city services” will be closed to the public.

The furloughs will save the city approximately $270,000. According to the agreement, the furloughs exist because of a state of financial emergency within the city. Should the city accrue the $2.5 million in reserves it seeks, the furlough agreement would be terminated.

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