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Jackson to implement furlough days
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Jackson County furlough days

The following is a list of proposed furlough days for Jackson County government for 2009-10

  • Friday, Oct. 30
  • Wednesday, Nov. 25
  • Wednesday, Dec. 23
  • Monday, Jan. 4
  • Friday, Feb. 19
  • Friday, March 5
  • Friday, April 2
  • Friday, May 28
  • Friday, June 25
  • Tuesday, July 6
  • Friday, Aug. 6
  • Friday, Sept. 3
  • Friday, Oct. 15
  • Wednesday, Nov. 24
  • Wednesday, Dec. 22

JEFFERSON — Like its Hall County counterparts, Jackson County government officials will start taking one furlough day a month for the next 15 months to help offset a projected $3.5 million shortfall.

At a called meeting Wednesday evening, the commission unanimously approved a resolution to implement the furlough days starting in October. Finance Director John Hulsey, County Manager Darrell Hampton and other staff also were in attendance to discuss the furlough days, which will last through December 2010.

County staff is in the process of finalizing the 2010 budget, which state law requires to be balanced, and recommended the commission approve the furlough days to save the county an estimated $646,000 in 2010.

He also said the days chosen were mostly Fridays and days that fall near holidays, and they were chosen in such a way that no two furlough days will fall during the same pay period.

Commissioner Dwain Smith asked about how the furloughs would impact emergency service personnel, who often work two 24-hour shifts during the week. Hampton said he discussed the matter with Sheriff Stan Evans and EMS Director Steve Nichols and both said they would be able to implement the furlough days.

"We’re working with each department to try to conform to this," Hampton said. "Yesterday morning we met in this room ... and he (Nichols) said he had some ideas at that point."

"The alternative beyond this is more unattractive than this," Hampton added. "It’s not something that’s pleasant but it is something to address the need we have."

Commission Chairman Hunter Bicknell reiterated Hampton’s sentiments, noting that staff has been looking into implementing furlough days for the last six months.

"We’ve been delaying to see what would happen with our tax digest and sales tax collections," Bicknell said about the furlough days. "We don’t know how much longer we’re going to be facing declining sales tax revenue. Our options were limited and in my view, this was the most painless step considering the needs of the employees and the citizens of this county."

The commission also discussed refinancing and restructuring some of its debts to help offset the shortfall. The Jackson County Industrial Development Authority met in joint session with the commission Wednesday night to discuss the matter, along with County Capital Projects Manager Don Clerici and representatives from Merchant Capital LLC.

The commission and the development authority both unanimously approved a resolution directing Hulsey to work with Merchant Capital to refinance the 2008 IDA economic development bonds, which were issued to pay for several county projects — the John B. Brooks Road project, the Zion Church Road redevelopments and the engineering of Ga. 53, among others.

Clerici went through the list of projects to be funded by the 2008 bonds, noting that three projects have yielded some savings and two projects have been temporarily put on hold to give the county about $9.3 million in total gross savings.

Staff will work with Merchant Capital and the IDA to "refinance these bonds (and) pay down principle in the amount of $5 million" which will allow the county to achieve about $2.4 million in savings and shave off four years of debt service for these bonds, Hulsey said.

Bicknell added that more savings may occur as the county begins work on some of these projects.

"A major portion of the projects have not been let for bid yet and we anticipate there will be more savings, in particular with Zion Church. And we will know by the end of the year what additional savings we will benefit from in that project," Bicknell said. "We still have the opportunity to come out better than was the belief a year and a half ago."