VINELAND — More than 300 city employees will take 12 unpaid furlough days each as part of a plan to pare $1.1 million from a proposed municipal budget.
City government would shut down on 12 designated days as part of the cost-saving measure.
The plan does not affect police, fire and emergency medical services. The Department of Public Works will establish its own furlough schedule to have workers on duty five days a week. That will allow the department to handle emergencies without having to call workers in on overtime.
The plan was announced Tuesday by Mayor Robert Romano, who said the city administration will now abandon another proposal to cut the work week for nonpolice, fire and emergency medical services by two and a half hours. That plan would have not only resulted in decreased pay, but also in a loss of income that affects pensions and benefit time.
“The employees have been good,” Romano said. “They understand the financial situation.”
Romano said while he wanted to do right by city employees, he also had to look after the taxpayers.
“People are fed up with taxes,” he said. “I’m trying to keep it as low as possible.”
The furlough agreement was reached with members of Local 210 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The union agreed to the furlough plan in exchange for the city withdrawing the reduced hours proposal.
Union officials couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.
Pending any changes, the city plans to shut down operations on Aug. 20, Sept. 17, Oct. 22, Nov. 19, Dec. 3 and 23, Jan. 21, Feb. 18, March 18, April 25, May 20, and June 17. All the planned shutdown dates, except for April 25, are on Fridays. April 25 is a Monday.
While the actual budget numbers are fluctuating, city administration officials said they have a best-case scenario of raising the local purpose tax rate by only 8 cents.
Some City Council members, who are reviewing a preliminary municipal budget, aren’t convinced that scenario can be achieved.
The city has already taken some steps to bring the budget in line and prevent layoffs.
Romano and police Chief Timothy Codispoti cut about $300,000 of police overtime to save about half the jobs of 20 police officers facing layoffs.
The city also applied to the state for $1.2 million in Urban Enterprise Zone funding. The money would be used to help defray Police Department costs.
Layoff notices also went out to the city’s part-time workers.
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