Most Viewed Stories
Corning city employees: New year in, furloughs out
The new year brought good tidings to Corning employees.
After 39 months of employee "furlough Fridays" to help balance the city budget, the practice has come to an end.
The furloughs, which occurred every other Friday, were equal to a 10 percent pay cut.
"The economic downturn resulted in a substantial reduction to the city's revenues beginning about the third quarter of 2008," said City Manager John Brewer. "The employee furloughs were implemented as a cost-cutting measure in October 2009 and affected all city departments and employees."
According to Brewer, city employees voluntarily accepted the furloughs in lieu of staff layoffs.
"We are glad the furloughs are over," said Troy Grootveld, Public Works employee. "Now we can get our 10 percent pay back."
Grootveld said some in the public works department felt they were shorted pay during the period of furloughs compared to employees in other departments.
"Some of the other city employees were allowed to make up their furlough time and we weren't," he stated.
Brewer explained that there are always some challenges in reducing employee hours, especially when dealing with the police department which has to be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"The police department did as good as could be expected in dealing with the furlough pr gram," he stated. "Was some overtime paid in that department, yes there was, but you have to remember they (police officers) always had to be ready to respond to any call at anytime and have officers on the street to do so."
Although the city hasn't conducted a precise accounting on the fiscal amount the furloughs saved the city, Brewer believes it exceeded $1.07 million over the course of the 39 month period.
"During that time, additional savings resulted from the retirements and part-time re-employment of former City Manager Steve Kimbrough and former police Chief Tony Cardenas and City Planner John Stoufer and some other cost saving measures," said the city manager.
The city was able to end employee furloughs because sales tax revenues have increased-approaching pre-downturn amounts, Brewer said.
"This positive trend was noted in the City Council 2012-13 budget actions in that included an end to the furloughs this month," he stated.
Brewer was pleased to report the city received in December the reimbursement of some sales tax revenue that was previously mis-directed to another jurisdiction.
He said the city is "cautiously optimistic" the upward financial trend will continue.
"However, as we stated in the Nov. 13 City Council meeting, we're concerned that fuel sales for the fourth quarter of 2012 may be reduced since several retailers have closed fuel aisles while installing new diesel fuel additive equipment," explained the city manager.
Sales tax from fuel sales make up about 61 percent of the city's total sales tax revenue, but a summary of the fourth quarter sales tax figures won't be available until March.
"Beyond the sales tax issue, city staff is also concerned about the economy that remains quite weak. Unemployment is high, and there's very little development activity to provide encouragement that construction activity will improve," Brewer stated. "That being said, city council and staff are hopeful that the worst of the recession is behind us and that we'll not have to seek additional employee furloughs or more severe cost reduction strategies in the future."