Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 36
City of Santa Maria adds more furlough days to the schedule
BY KRISTINA SEWELL
The city of Santa Maria, which continues to be affected by severe financial deficits, announced on Nov. 9 it will continue its 13-day Mandatory Time Off program (also known as furloughs) for non-sworn employees for 2012.
The program is designed to reduce operational costs; according to spokesman Mark van de Kamp, the city will save slightly more than $1 million from salary concessions.
“It’s a salary concession of 4 to 5 percent for an employee, depending on the employee’s job classification,” van de Kamp said.
The 5 percent concessions also impact the City Council, planning commissioners, and commissioners for the Recreation and Parks Department.
This is the third year the city has approved the program, which is reviewed annually, according to van de Kamp. The City Council approved the first year of furloughs from January 2009 through December 2010 with the intent that the program would expire at the end of the year. But financial circumstances have forced the city to continue with the program.
The city is currently facing a multi-million dollar financial gap that is slowly depleting general funds.
“As the economy goes, so does the city’s revenues, because virtually all of the major revenue sources in the general fund are economy driven,” van de Kamp said.
While the economy is slowly recovering, he said, the city was hit hard again in February when the state and the courts eliminated redevelopment agencies.
“That has created a $1.3 million hole in our general fund, which is significant,” he said. “That is on top of a $5 million budget gap.”
Because Santa Maria is in a declared period of economic hardship, the city has had to cut budgets by 22 percent, reducing operating hours at the library and in the community development departments, as well as postponing numerous equipment purchases.
“In the past four years, the city has eliminated 68 positions,” van de Kamp said. “The city has had no choice but to rely on using dwindling one-time reserves in order to simply maintain basic services.”
The furlough program will not touch police and fire services, and trash and recycling services will continue to operate as normally scheduled.