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Lathrop furloughs saving $525,000

City Hall closed on every Friday

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POSTED July 23, 2009 1:34 a.m.

LATHROP – Lathrop City Hall will be closed on Fridays starting Aug. 14 until further notice as the city wrestles with a $3 million plus budget deficit this fiscal year which started on July 1.

The one-day-a-week closure of the city’s business offices is the result of a furlough program that was unanimously approved by the council Tuesday night.

This furlough program, which reduces city employees’ work week by one day or 10 percent of their salaries, is the second phase of the city’s cost-cutting measures as it grapples with a projected $3 million plus shortfall.

That deficit was originally estimated at $2.5 million; however, the number jumped to $3 million plus with the equally cash-strapped state “borrowing” about $730,000 of the city’s shares of property taxes and gas taxes.

The city shaved off $1.3 million of the budget deficit in May during the first phase of the cost-saving measures by eliminating 15 positions, five of them previously budgeted but were not filled.

This second step will further reduce the deficit by $525,000 but it leaves the city looking for other ways to cut an additional $1.2 million to balance the current fiscal year’s budget. That cut could come from the city’s police services contract with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office which is still under negotiation.

The furlough program will affect all city employees across the board. Under this furlough program,

•Animal Services employees, building inspectors and construction inspectors will stagger their schedules with some working Monday to Thursday and others from Tuesday to Friday to make sure the services they provide to the public are covered.
•Administrative or office employees in Police Services will be part of the furlough, as well as Parks and Recreation staff.
•The Public Works corporation yard also will be closed every Friday and will be open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
•Work hours of some employees with “event-driven” workloads will have their schedules customized and implemented by their supervisors or site managers. These affected employees include inspectors, Animal Control officers, recreational employees, and those in Police Services administrative staff.
•In the event an approved holiday falls on a day that the City Hall is closed, City Hall will not be closed on a Thursday; instead, employees will be given a “floating holiday.”
•For city employees, the furlough program will take effect on Aug. 8 until further notice; however, SEIU (Service Employees International Union) which represents union employees wants the program reviewed in one year.

In connection with the continuing negotiations with the Sheriff’s Office over the Police Services contract, the mayor proposed Tuesday night to have a study session on the second Tuesday of August to get input from the community as to what positions should be cut from the police budget and to find out what the residents’ priorities are in terms of police services. Sayles also suggested having Sheriff Steve Moore present at that meeting.

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