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Furloughs put to rest ’til March

POSTED: December 16, 2009 4:00 a.m.

It will be March at the earliest before Dawson County employees know whether they must continue taking so-called “days of rest” next year.

  

County commissioners, who are holding out hope the furloughs won’t be needed, have delayed a decision until they can review the 2009 revenue collections.

  

County Manager Kevin Tanner recently presented the county commission with a list of 12 possible unpaid days off, but recommended it wait to vote on the schedule.

  

The revenue figures won’t be available until March.

  

Tanner has said the list was created for planning purposes in the event the county needs to bring back furlough days.

  

Court calendars and meetings are set months in advance, Tanner said, so it is good practice to have the dates declared if needed.

  

Several elected county officials attended the Dec. 10 commission meeting after hearing that employees could once again face unpaid days off.

  

The commission approved five “days of rest” for employees during 2009, a decision that reportedly saved the county about $200,000.

  

Among the furlough dates were two days in October and one day in each of September, November and December.

  

Sheriff Billy Carlisle said he does not want to see additional “days of rest” for his some 120 employees.

  

“If I need to cut an additional $50,000 from my budget, I’ll do that,” he said. “Furloughs need to be the last resort.”

  

Commissioner Mike Connor also raised questions about possible furloughs, saying the county has “non-essential” positions not found in “any other county of similar size or even double the size” that were implemented during the county’s “good times.”

  

Connor did not identify any positions he considers “non-essential.”

  

However, he did ask, “Is it better to share the wealth across the board with people we really need or is it better to take the difficult task of cutting the non-essential in order to keep from having to cut the essential?”

  

Tanner called furlough days a short-term solution that would allow the county time to review revenue collections, which have been unsteady for months. 

  

“We’re not at a point where we can really track where we’re going and that’s the problem,” he said. “If the problem is long term, then you do have to find ways to get back to a new norm, a new bottom.”

 

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