Council gives up 18 hours pay to offset city deficit

October 07, 2009

Akron City Council is joining city workers in participating in recently implemented mandatory unpaid furlough days aimed at reducing the city’s deficit.

Council Monday night passed an ordinance notifying the city it would forego 2 hours of weekly pay for nine weeks, saving the city $3,600 through Nov. 27. The deferment brings the city’s total cost savings from Council salaries to $5,900 with the annual 2.5 percent pay increases Council agreed to return in the summer.

“Council stepped up to the plate,” said Council President Marco Sommerville (W-3). “We don’t receive a lot of the benefits that other city employees get, but are willing to take less to do our part as the city continues to deal with the economic slowdown which has impacted city revenues.”

Council also approved an amended version of previous mandatory furlough legislation which ensures that city employees impacted by the salary reductions maintain their holiday and vacation benefits.

The substitute ordinance stipulates that city employees are still entitled to holiday and vacation pay even if they take a furlough day on a day before or after a city-recognized holiday.  In a compromise, the Fraternal Order of Police have agreed to forego premium pay for working Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day or the Friday after Thanksgiving, saving the city $100,000.

“The intent is to make sure the mandatory furloughs have no effect on the vacation or holiday pay for 2009,” said Budget and Finance Committee Chair Tina Merlitti (W-7). “In the past, employees who took time off before a holiday would not get holiday pay. What this legislation does is get rid of that rule for these circumstances.”

The city negotiated voluntary furloughs with four out of five unions and non bargaining employees. More than 170 employees have taken voluntary furloughs since July 31, saving the city more than $50,000.

Under the mandatory furloughs, municipal offices in City Hall, The Morley Health Center, CitiCenter, the Ocasek Government Office Building and I Cascade Plaza close at 2:30 p.m. on Fridays through Nov. 20, and on Wednesday, Nov. 25.