Furlough day declared for city staff

The city of Fayetteville will take a furlough day on July 2 to help address budget shortfalls, Finance Director Paul Becker announced at tonight’s agenda session.

The day will be treated as a holiday, with city offices closed for business. In addition to saving the labor expenses for that day, the closed buildings will help reduce the cost of utilities, said Don Marr, the mayor’s chief of staff.

Before opting for an 8-hour furlough day, city departments were asked to trim expenditures, including cutting back overtime for police and fire department employees. The Parks and Recreation Department agreed to raise fees and cut back on the mowing schedule. Also, 14 job openings, spanning across city divisions, will not be filled. All those savings amounted to $976,600 in expense reductions and new revenue.

But even with those cuts, the city still faces a shortfall of $25,000 if things continue, “and we really don’t have a lot of reason to believe things are going to change,” Becker said.

“We’re planning right now for things not to get better, things not to get worse,” he said.

To deal with the persistent shortfall, Mayor Lioneld Jordan called for a day of unpaid leave.

Three tentative furlough days have also been scheduled for August 27, October 11 and November 12, Marr said, but those dates might not be needed.

The mayor evaluated other solutions, such as salary reduction or layoffs, but decided on the furlough day, because it was “the most employee friendly,” Marr said.

“We think it’s a plan that protects jobs,” he said. “And, we’re hoping every day that sales tax goes up.”

Mary Robbins is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She declared Fayetteville as her hometown upon moving here for college. She is a Journalism graduate who enjoys live music, the outdoors and attending city council meetings. For more of Mary’s contributions, visit her author page.