by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVEâ€”Residents looking for service at Sugar Grove Village Hall on Wednesday would not have found employees working – and not because it was a paid holiday for village workers.
In a move to reduce the village’s $114,000 budget deficit, the board instituted a number of furlough days for its non-union personnel, including the Veteran’s Day federal holiday, Nov. 11, and Martin Luther King Day on Monday, Jan. 18, 2010.
Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said that furlough days will also be used by employees during the week between Christmas and the new year, Dec. 28-31.
They will be allowed to use vacation days during this period, or to take the days without pay.
A staff person will be assigned to each facility during the furlough week to answer the phone for emergency responses only. According to Eichelberger, the village typically does not have a high demand for services during that week, so closing Village Hall should not greatly impact the residents.
â€œIt is regrettable that this decision had to be made; however, it is in the best interest of the village at this time,â€ Eichelberger said.
According to Eichelberger, the village took steps earlier this year to reduce the budget, including laying off four full-time employees and one part-time employee, eliminating three additional positions through attrition, and instituting a hiring freeze across all departments.
In addition, the village shifted more of the cost of health care premiums to its employees and cut a number of other budget line items, including some programs and supplies.
Given the uncertain economic future of the village, the board targeted a $100,000 maximum deficit for fiscal year 2009 – 10. With the implementation of the furlough days, the deficit is currently projected at $98,674.
â€œIt should be noted that the projected deficit can change at any time,â€ Finance Director VanVooren said. â€œA change in state-shared revenues, reductions in utility taxes, or a bad winter are examples of items beyond the village’s control that could have a major impact on the budget. Staff will continue to monitor the budget and keep the board informed.â€
The village has also taken advantage of an offer made by one of the village staff members to voluntarily work reduced hours for a three-month period during the winter when that individual’s workload is typically reduced.
Furlough days would, not include Police Department employees who are represented by the Metropolitan Alliance of Police.