Basalt town workers face furloughs
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT, Colorado – The salaries of workers at the town of Basalt will be frozen through 2010 and workers will be required to take six furlough days during the first half of the year, Town Manager Bill Kane said Wednesday.
The benefit cuts came after the town government laid off two long-time employees on Monday and made arrangements not to fill an anticipated opening until later in 2010. The town will also leave two positions in the police and public works departments unfilled.
Town staffers gathered Wednesday afternoon to learn how they would be affected by cuts made for the proposed 2010 budget. Kane said there will be one mandatory furlough day for every employee during the last quarter of this year. In 2010, there will be one furlough day per month through June. That will be extended through the year if the town’s revenues don’t match or exceed the forecast.
The furlough day will come on the last Friday of each month for most departments. Town Hall will be closed on those days, Kane said. The police and public works departments will be asked to work out furlough schedules that work with their special situations.
The furloughs in 2010 will equal a 2.5 percent salary cut, Kane said. That would grow to 5 percent if extended through the year.
Town employees will also lose their health and wellness benefit of $500 per year for 2010.
Kane said employees seemed understanding of the decisions in the staff meeting. “I think people would rather lose [a portion of their pay] than achieve these savings through staff layoffs,” Kane said.
Police Chief Keith Ikeda said the attitude among staff members is they have to work together to get through the tough economic times. He agreed that his staff seemed understanding of the need for the furloughs to avoid additional layoffs.
The town laid off a planner and a building department technician on Monday. One staffer had more than 20 years of experience with the town while the other had in excess of 15 years, Kane said. The employees were given a severance package that included three months of pay and health care coverage.
Basalt’s budget is heavily dependent on sales tax revenues and building fees. For 2009, revenues are now projected to be about $900,000 short of what was budgeted. The town staff believes revenues will be flat next year, so it is paring spending.
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