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Some Beaufort County employees will have to take five days off without pay before June 30 to help the county avoid a budget deficit, they were told Friday.
Workers who have Memorial Day off will not be paid for the holiday, according to a memo to employees from county administrator Gary Kubic. Non-essential employees will also have to take off four additional unpaid days before the June 30 end of the fiscal year.
Kubic said he hopes the furloughs will save $300,000 to $400,000, though that won't guarantee the county will avoid a deficit.
County staff said last month that a sour economy and slow tax collections have reduced revenue and raised the possibility of a $1 million to $2 million deficit, which would shrink the county's reserves. Other cost-saving measures, such as cutting overtime and limiting departments' purchases, have already been taken.
"We have taken the expenditure rate down as low as we can, and now this furlough -- because the highest expenditure by category is payroll -- this will get us a big chunk of savings," Kubic said.
Essential personnel, such as those involved in public safety, will not have to take furloughs.
County offices will not close during the furlough period. Kubic said workers will rotate days off to minimize disruption, but response time for some services may increase.
He said the move is likely to affect about 300 workers under his authority. Elected officials, who have their own budgets and staffing powers, can choose whether to participate in the furloughs.
Staff will monitor the financial situation as the fiscal year closes, and Kubic said if numbers improve, the furlough program could end early.
"If I don't need to have people off from work, I want them to be providing public service," he said.