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BOC OKs four new furlough days

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

LAWRENCEVILLE — The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to cut four days of holiday pay from employees’ salaries.

The board’s action establishes July 4, Sept. 5, Nov. 25 and Dec. 23 as furlough days. The days were picked to spread the effect of a decrease in pay across different pay periods, as well as to lessen the impact to constituents seeking county services.

The move is projected to reduce the county’s payroll by just under $2.8 million, $2.1 million of which would reduce the general fund deficit. The county has about 4,600 employees.

Aaron Bovos, deputy county administrator and chief financial officer, noted that public safety officials who are scheduled to work on those days will receive their regular pay. They will not, however, receive additional holiday pay.

Commissioners said implementing unpaid furlough days was not a decision they relished making, but they felt it was a necessary decision.

“It’s not that we sit up here with joy and make these cuts,” Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said. “It’s simply a way to respond responsibly to the situation at hand, which is a shrinking tax (digest).”

The fact that the decision will impact employees’ household budgets “is not a small issue and does not go unnoticed,” Beaudreau said.

Commissioner John Heard said he approved the furloughs with “a very heavy heart.”

“The bottom line is the economy has terribly, terribly suffered over the last four years,” he said. “We have cut and cut and cut to the quick and to the bone.”

Commission Vice Chair Shirley Lasseter praised county staff for their creativity in saving money.

“We’re trying to look under every nook and cranny we can to save the county money, so we don’t have to go out for a tax increase,” Lasseter said.

The approval of furloughs was one of several cost-saving measures recently approved by the board. In all, the projected $18 million deficit has been reduced to about $2.6 million.

For more information, visit www.gwinnettcounty.com and click on the link under “County financial news” to view the progress toward filling the $18 million gap.