Unpaid furlough: County begins office closings

Public Affairs Specialist Karen Pan reported to Historic City News local St. Johns County news desk that the first of five unpaid staff furlough days for county employees in 2010 will be Friday, January 15th.

Due to the unpaid staff furlough day, all departments of the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners will be closed on Friday, January 15th. The unpaid furlough measure is promised to save approximately one million dollars; part of the $47 million reduction in the County’s 2010 budget.

Library branches are an exception and will instead observe the staff unpaid furlough day on Saturday, January 16th. Accordingly, libraries will be open on Friday but closed on Saturday. Please note the library book return drops will be locked at 6:00 pm Friday and reopen at 10:00 am Tuesday. No materials will be due on the closed days.

Another exception is essential Fire Rescue personnel who are exempt from the furloughs due to the crucial public safety they provide. Additionally, employees of Constitutional Officers not under the jurisdiction of the Board of County Commissioners are not included in the furloughs.

County Administrator Michael Wanchick said the furlough days and service reductions are unfortunate, yet necessary. “The alternative to countywide furloughs would have been 30 or more layoffs,” he said, noting the County has reduced nearly 200 employees and $122 million from its budget during the past three years. “Furloughs are the best way to manage our expenses without a permanent reduction in quality and levels of public services and programs.”

All County offices and libraries are also closed on Monday, January 18th, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The other unpaid staff furlough dates for 2010 are April 5, May 28, July 2 and September 3 (with each corresponding Saturday for library branches). The furlough dates are being spread throughout the year and coupled with holidays to have the least negative impact for both employees and the public.