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Board may approve furloughs

POSTED: August 19, 2009 4:00 a.m.

The Dawson County commission will consider Thursday whether to make county employees take Sept. 4 and four other unpaid “days of rest” this year.

  

The board is expected to approve the furloughs, which the county’s budget and finance staff suggested last week as a cost-saving measure.

  

Sept. 4 is the Friday before Labor Day weekend. Employees, who will see about a 2 percent reduction in salary through the end of the year, would also be off two days in October, and one day in both November and December.

  

Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner said the furlough days will save the county about $195,000 in salaries, as well as an undetermined amount in fuel and electricity.

  

County officials and staff have made more than $4.5 million in cuts this year.

  

The continued decline in tax revenue has given the county little choice but to furlough workers, Tanner said. 

  

“We as a county have worked very hard to continue to cut costs in a lot of different areas,” he said. “We felt like we were going to be able to make it without furloughing.”

  

The resolution is mirrored after a plan in neighboring Hall County, which began furloughing employees last year. On Friday, Forsyth County announced employees would not be paid for four of the six remaining holidays this year.

  

“Most of our neighbors are already doing this,” Tanner said. “Again, I think we need to continue to look for ways to make cuts, and we’re doing that now, so this can be as short lived as possible.”

  

Following Tanner’s presentation to the board, District 3 Commissioner Mike Connor said the board should have taken a more aggressive approach to the budget as the local economy soured.

  

“In preparation of this, I think we should have been much more proactive,” he said. “It’s too bad we’re there now. I have repeatedly called for more oversight from this board on the budget. This board has been anything but proactive.”

  

Connor was the lone dissenting vote last month when the board approved the county’s $23.8 million budget for 2010.

  

“A budget review was called for long before now,” he said. “Had we used the review and revised the budget, then we probably would not be going through furlough days now.”

  

Reacting to Connor’s statements, District 1 Commissioner Gary Pichon challenged Connor to present the board with a motion of cuts he thought were necessary.

  

Connor said he would do so at Thursday’s session, which is set for 6 p.m. in the G.L. Pete Gilleland Chambers at city hall.

 

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