El Paso County's Elected Officials Approve Voluntary Furloughs

POSTED: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 - 7:30am

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 - 3:32pm

El Paso County's budget is in bad shape.

County Commissioners are looking for any way to make up for an $11 million dollar budget shortfall.

"It is so serious that our county auditor who's been with the county for thirty years says he's never seen such difficult economic times for government," said Commissioner Veronica Escobar.

In one move to save money, Commissioners have already mandated that all county employees take 4 holidays without pay.
But County Commissioners and other elected officials were exempt from those furloughs.
County Human Resources Director Betsy Keller say she's heard employees complain about not being treated fairly.

"We have heard from a lot of our employees that they don't think it's right that they have to furlough and the elected officials aren't taking the same furloughs they are," she said.

Keller says 16 elected officials will be given forms that allow them to voluntarily furlough two upcoming holidays and two more that have already taken by county employees.

"Commissioners court took action to allow elected officials and employees who aren't subject to holiday furloughs to voluntarily participate in the holiday furloughs," said Keller.

If all elected officials volunteer to take those furloughs, it would save almost $30,000, or $7,000 a day.
Commissioners say it's more about morale than money.

"I think anything we can do to show that we're in it together we need to do," said Escobar.

Commissioner Willie Gandara agreed, saying, "If we are asking employees to furlough days then we ourselves should take that hit. Its just right."

The next two upcoming furloughed holidays are April 1st and July 4th.

The county says it will post a list of which elected officials participate in the voluntary furloughs on its website and in the county courthouse.

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