County budget crisis: 10-day furlough?

Just announced by the King County Executive‘s office, a major step toward enabling a plan to save $10 million next year – applied toward the $90 million-plus projected county budget deficit – by a near-shutdown of county government for 10 days. Which 10 days, not specified yet; here’s the official news release from an announcement made by Executive Ron Sims a short time ago:

All King County employees, with the exception of essential safety and
transit staff, would take ten days unpaid furlough in 2009 under the
terms of an historic agreement reached today with the King County Union
Coalition to help with the unprecedented $93.4 million 2009 budget

Executive Ron Sims thanked the Coalition for their desire to be part of
a budget solution and their recommendation to the rank and file of 15
unions to approve the plan that will save $10.1 million next year.

Executive Sims praised Coalition leaders for engaging in unprecedented
negotiations to offset spiraling county costs with reductions in
employee hours of work. Nationally, it is believed that few, if any
unions have willing agreed to unpaid furloughs for a government
jurisdiction of our size and complexity.

“This tentative agreement is an act of compassion and strong leadership
on the part of the Union Coalition leaders and will be a genuine
sacrifice by our employees,” said Executive Sims. “Without these
furloughs we would be faced with cutting another $10.1 million in
essential services resulting in more layoffs.”

“I commend Coalition leadership for their flexibility and willingness to
sit at the table and consider an option for helping to solve the
county’s budget deficit during this unprecedented worldwide economic
downturn,” Sims said.

All union employees will receive a cost-of-living-raise of 4.88% as
required by their union contracts. Non-represented county employees
will receive the same 4.88% cost-of-living raises as union employees,
which is the traditional county practice.

Sims had identified $13 million in cuts in employee costs in his
proposed 2009 budget and had been working with unions to negotiate what
form those cuts would take. Separately elected leaders will review the
proposal and the Metropolitan King County Council will have the final
say on the agreement if ratified by the rank and file. King County
Prosecutor Dan Satterberg expressed his strong support for the plan to
Executive Sims.

The State of Maryland; Chicago, Illinois; Toledo, Ohio; Santa Barbara
County and Sacramento, California, are among numerous state and local
governments nationwide that are considering or have announced plans to
balance their budgets with unpaid employee furloughs, thus reducing the
number of employee layoffs and service cuts.

Reminder that Wednesday night, the sheriff, prosecuting attorney, and other county leaders come to Steve Cox Memorial Park, 7 pm, to talk about the budget crisis and its potential effect on public safety.

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One Response to “County budget crisis: 10-day furlough?”

  1. Does Ron Sims count as Non-Essential ?