Municipalities throughout the area have developed numerous ways to deal with their budget crises.
Whether it's calling for furloughs, making staff cuts or switching to a four-day workweek, the ideas of public officials have been drastic in some instances, even if the best method has not been clearly defined.
Throughout the region, combinations of furloughs and layoffs have been the solution for municipalities. At least two municipalities have decided to shut down entire offices on certain days to save money.
In Stafford Township, Ocean County, officials started closing offices in nonessential departments once a month.
The plan is for the township's offices to close at least once every month until the end of the year. Health care costs, pension payments and other expenses have increased costs by $2 million.
Stafford Township Mayor John McMenamin said the one-day-per-month furlough and the planned layoff of five police officers will not completely offset the gap, but it is a start.
The goal, publicly stated by most officials from most municipalities, has been to avoid tax increases or at least keep them minimal. That has been the rationale expressed in regard to layoff and furlough plans.
In Millville, Cumberland County, public officials said they would do as much as they could to avoid laying off any city employees. But, faced with a budget deficit of $3.6 million in December, it was clear such action needed to be taken.
The city dropped its private health plan and went with the state for a savings of $1.6 million. Still faced with a $2 million deficit, the city moved forward with a layoff and mandatory furlough plan.
Officials decided cuts had to be made - 15 of them, so far - and concessions were needed from other workers. Millville Mayor Tim Shannon said the city reached out to the five unions representing workers with the city, but only one came back with furlough suggestions.
As a result, the Millville's City Commission approved a resolution to go to a four-day workweek beginning July 1 for the course of the year.
Galloway Township in Atlantic County began closing its municipal building on Mondays starting in March to save money.
"The bold step needed to be taken," Shannon said. "We had a number, and we needed to make sure we got to that number."
The plan, which would shut down City Hall every Friday, will save the city $700,000 per year. Public safety employees, such as police officers, are not affected. Other departments with essential personnel, such as sewer workers, will remain staffed, although Shannon said skeleton crews will work Fridays.
Millville's plan is awaiting state approval, although it's unlikely to change.
"We're still negotiating," Shannon said. "We've only gotten concessions from the administrative professionals. We tried to do voluntary furlough days and no one else was interested."
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