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Clermont one of few governments still with employee furloughs
That could change, however, as town enters budget process
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Clermont, like other area governments, is gearing up for budget season.

Unlike others, however, the North Hall town still has furlough days, a staple for some governments during and following the devastating 2007-09 recession.

“Hopefully, we can work it in (the budget) to where we don’t have those” in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, Mayor James Nix said last week. “We’ll look at that.”

The economy’s downfall led to budget crunches for many area governments, resulting in, among other things, layoffs, frozen employee pay and lost work days.

In 2008, for example, Hall County announced it would shut down all county offices for one day per month. Several years later, the county scrapped furlough days altogether.

Statewide, the city governments that imposed furlough days during those lean years “did it for a limited time, typically one year,” said Amy Henderson, spokeswoman for the Georgia Municipal Association.

However, one city manager has noted that furlough days “remain an option in case ... of declining revenues,” she said.

Henderson noted that Thomasville — which, like Clermont, has no property taxes — “did not use furlough days during the recession.”

Beth Brown, spokeswoman for Association County Commissioners of Georgia, didn’t know offhand the extent to which county governments statewide have eliminated furlough days.

However, she said she “used to see announcements from counties about furlough days being scheduled close to holidays when county offices were closed, and I don’t ... recall seeing (those) in the last year.

“Budget problems seem to be easing.”

Clermont doesn’t have many employees or a big budget, but every penny counts in the town of some 900 people.

“Back years ago, we operated being closed one day a week,” Nix said. “But now, we’ve got so much more going on.”

The town, which closes shop two Wednesdays per month, is largely rural but has grown some over the years, particularly residentially.

Still, finances are tight.

“We don’t have a tax to bring (revenue) up and replenish,” Nix said.

The largest source of revenue in the city’s current $309,220 budget is $120,000 in local option sales tax. There are assorted other income producers, such as $20,000 from the town’s annual Clermont Days festival.

The town’s largest expense is $90,000 for personnel. Other expenses includes $19,000 for legal counsel and $21,000 for streets.

“The overall budget number is firm, but we do have flexibility within the individual accounts,” Deputy Clerk Amy Lomax said.

Budget matters are likely to come up at the council’s work session, set for 7 p.m. April 21 at the Chattahoochee Center, 639 Main St.

And a public hearing will be held at some point.

“We’re don’t attract much attention usually for that,” Nix said.

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