City of Casper to Furlough Full-Time Employees Amid Budget Crunch
The City of Casper is finalizing plans for all its employees to take unpaid time off before the year's end as city leadership looks to trim spending by roughly $3 million.
Those furloughs will likely translate to reductions in city services that are used broadly, City Manager Carter Napier told city council members in May.
"This hits people in services directly that citizens enjoy such as streets that don't get resurfaced," Napier said.
Tuesday, city employees were notified via email that the standard furlough program had been finalized.
At the individual level, city employees will be required to miss work with no pay for 4-6 days -- or 32-48 hours -- in total, depending on annual base salary. Fire-EMS platoon employees, however, will be furloughed for 45-67 hours, again depending on their compensation level.
The standard furlough program went into effect Monday, and employees must take the required time off by Dec. 31.
But employees who don't find the standard program feasible will have other three optional to choose from in order to fulfill the furlough requirement, Support Services Director Tracey Belser told K2 Radio News in a phone interview Wednesday.
Belser declined to outline those options, as they are still being finalized. City managers had hoped to have those plans completed by July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, but there's a good reason for the delay.
"We're trying to be the most appropriate in giving employees enough time to make the right decision for themselves [in deciding which program to elect]," Belser said.
Here's an outline of the required furlough time for each employee:
- For those making at least $90,000, general employees must take 48 hours, while fire platoon employees must take 67 hours;
- For those making $60,000-$89,999, general employees must take 40 hours, while fire platoon employees must take 56 hours;
- For those making less than $60,000, general employees must take 32 hours, while fire platoon employees must take 45 hours.
Also Wednesday, Governor Mark Gordon announced that he has asked all state agencies to identify ways to reduce their budgets by another 10%. That's on top of the 10% in cuts his cabinet has already submitted.
Gordon said during a news conference that he will decide which cuts to implement in the next few days. On the chopping block are things like mental health services, programs for sex offenders, industrial siting for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and out-of-state travel for state employees.
"So as you can see, with the cuts that we've really talked about here, they're getting close to the bone. In some cases, we really are talking about the bone," Gordon said. "That next round [of cuts], that we're identifying at this point, will be even harder."
In Tuesday's email to employees, Casper's city managers included answers to a list of frequently asked questions about the furlough programs.
"Sales tax is the City's largest revenue source. We have already seen serious drops in sales tax revenue in the last several months," the email reads in part. Employees were asked to review the included information thoroughly and seek help from human resources staff with any questions.
"We realize this isn't an optimal situation to be in. We worked really hard to put together some optional programs that might appeal to employees and make the situation a little more palatable," the email concludes.
The furloughs would reduce city expenses by roughly $658,000.
"For a service provider like any other City in the country, trying to aggressively cut budget without impacting employees negatively is virtually impossible ...," according to a memo to the mayor and the city council on May 18. "It seems that that least egregious means of exacting savings at the expense of employees is through a furlough program."
Other spending reductions included a salary step freeze to save $445,000.