Employees of Gainesville will now have to take one unpaid day off each month to keep the city’s expenses in line with declining sales tax revenues.
City Manager Kip Padgett said the furloughs will be in place until June 30, and will immediately affect all full-time employees except police officers, firefighters and water and wastewater treatment plant operators, whose jobs require 24-hour staffing, seven days a week.
City Council members also will have their pay deducted, Padgett said.
City employees have gone without raises for nearly two years, but the city has held off longer than other local governments on mandatory furloughs. Employees of Hall County government have been taking furlough days for a year.
But when the city received sales tax receipts last Friday, city officials began preparing for another round of cuts, Padgett said.
City officials spent Monday looking at city revenue streams and Padgett discussed the issue with the City Council in a closed-door meeting Tuesday. He announced the new cost-saving measure to city department heads Wednesday.
The city informed the public in a news release Thursday.
“It’s always been a possibility out there,” Padgett said. “... We have been implementing other cutting measures, but you get to a point where you’ve cut all you could then you really have to look at furloughs as the next option.”
City officials have chosen two Wednesdays in November and December to close city offices, Nov. 25 and Dec. 23.
But beginning in January, all city employees will eliminate eight hours from their work schedules each month, and there will not be a day when city offices are closed, Padgett said.
Keeping city offices open regularly instead of having all employees off on the same day will reduce the furlough’s impact on city residents, Padgett said.
“One reason that we want to keep our offices open after January just ... so our doors will be open to the public if they need anything,” Padgett said.
The mandatory furloughs will save the city approximately $450,000, Padgett said. The pay decreases for the City Council will save the city about $3,800, Gainesville’s Administrative Services Director Melody Marlowe said.
Police, fire and Public Utilities employees will also have to cut eight hours from their schedules each month beginning in January.
“We need to give them these two months so they can get their schedules together, because they work such a different schedule than just 8 to 5 Monday through Friday,” Padgett said. “They need some time to kind of get their arms around it and get their schedules set up accordingly, so that we can maintain service.”
Each department will also be required to make additional cuts, eliminating 5 percent of their operating budget and reducing part-time salaries, a news release from the city said.