Council to discuss furloughs

Published 9:55 am Monday, July 6, 2009

City officials are set to discuss the idea of a voluntary furlough Monday night as a way to help with budget shortfalls.

During the City Council work session, preliminary guidelines of a voluntary furlough system will be presented, and it is expected that the system will go before the council for a vote on July 20.

Under the guidelines, employees will still accrue benefits as long as furlough time, or time off from work, is 48 hours or less. The city would also continue paying its portion of insurance benefits during the time off.

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A furlough would have to be approved jointly by the department head, city administrator and human resources director.

In 2009, a cap of 48 hours has been recommended, meaning employees taking a furlough beyond that would fall under unpaid leave. The 2010 cap has been recommended at 96 hours.

The idea of a mandatory furlough program has been thrown around, but such a program would require approval from all city units and unions, a much more difficult proposition than enacting a voluntary program.

The work session will be held immediately after the City Council meeting Monday, which is scheduled for 5:30.

During the meeting, the council will award a bid for proposed Arc of Mower County expansion. The Arc provides services to intellectually disabled people and their families, and is connected to the senior center.

Also, the council will be asked to allow Austin employees to donate vacation time to two fellow city workers, Steve Clark and Herb Wehner. Both have homes that were hit hard by the June 17 tornadoes, and the two will likely need some time off to deal with the damage.