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Future Gainesville employees may get less vacation time
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Depending on a comprehensive study of employee benefits, future Gainesville government employees may not enjoy the same vacation packages currently in place, according City Manager Kip Padgett.

Padgett says city officials are comparing the city’s benefit packages with other municipalities across the state to find a way to permanently cut employee costs.

City workers now can earn up to five weeks vacation based on their years of service.

City revenues have been steadily low since 2008. At a City Council retreat in the spring, City Councilman Danny Dunagan asked city administrators to take a proactive approach at solving rising employee costs.

The study will analyze where the city could save in the way of vacation benefits, retirement and insurance, Padgett said.

The study is awaiting the return of several questionnaires sent to administrators in other cities across the state that will allow Gainesville to compare its benefit packages to theirs, Padgett said.

It’s a scrutiny most municipalities across the state are undergoing right now, said Amy Henderson, spokeswoman for the Georgia Municipal Association

“All along as this economy has been suffering, cities have been reviewing all of their employee options and everything,” Henderson said.

An e-mail list connecting city managers across the state has become a forum over the last year for administrators concerned about rising health care costs and comparing employee benefits, she said.

While many local governments like Gainesville’s have continued to cut costs, health care costs have continued to rise, Henderson said.

“That’s certainly something that everybody’s continuing to look at,” she said.

The Gainesville study comes at a time when the city is not hiring new employees except for vital public safety personnel, Padgett said.

Padgett expects the results to be ready by October. The City Council would ultimately decide whether to lower benefit packages.

“We decided to take our time and make sure we do a detailed study, because we’re not really hiring anyone right now except public safety folks,” Padgett said.

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