County employees take voluntary furloughs to help budget

As more budget cuts loom for San Juan County, nearly 20 percent of the county’s eligible full time employees and 10 percent of its part time workers have voluntarily agreed to take unpaid leave to help reduce the county’s 2009 budget deficit.

San Juan County’s Human Resources Department reported on Monday that 42 employees have agreed to take a total of 148 furlough days. The furloughs will save an estimated $31,542 in wages – $17,715 from members of Union Local 849 and $13,280 from unrepresented employees.

On average, participating employees volunteered to take 3.5 furlough days during the last four months of the year, effectively reducing their wages for that period by nearly 4 percent.

In November, San Juan County voters will decide whether to increase the county’s property tax levy by 12 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value with the increase earmarked for senior services, parks and other specific programs that face dramatic cuts or elimination in the 2010 budget.

Even if the increase is approved, the total 2010 budget will be smaller than the 2009 budget is, even after two rounds of cuts, an 8 percent reduction in the county workforce and work hours reduced for 11 percent of the remaining employees.

“Economically, we are in survival mode,” San Juan County Administrator Pete Rose said. “We are all grateful for the sacrifices our employees have had to make and in the creativity they have shown in maintaining core services as our resources are shrinking.”

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