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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 8:47 pm | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara County’s Furlough Program Seen as Statewide Model

Other counties and cities in search of a fiscal solution want to know more about the 64-hour pay cut.

Santa Barbara County employees taking a 64-hour pay cut as part of a furlough program approved by the Board of Supervisors to help balance the county’s budget have garnered statewide attention from leaders throughout California as role models for civil servants during these turbulent economic times.

“We’re getting a lot of calls from other jurisdictions,” county Executive Officer Michael Brown said. “The governor’s office, the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Orange County and several others all want to know what we’re doing and how we did it.”

He said that “a lot of credit is due to the county’s work force” for recognizing the need and taking positive action to be a part of the solution. The 64-hour pay cut will help save about $10 million in salary expenditures. The money saved will be used to help preserve county programs and services for the public while also preserving jobs, Brown said.

As part of the furlough program, the county will close most nonessential business operations for eight days between Dec. 22 and Jan. 4. The county also will be closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

“The public’s safety was first in our minds as we developed the furlough program,” Brown said. “Law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services will not be impacted. Our sheriff’s deputies will be on patrol. Firefighters will be there to put out fires, and paramedics will be responding to medical emergencies.”

The county’s Public Health Department and the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services Department will operate on modified schedules for various public services and clinics. The county’s animal shelters also will be on modified schedules, and the Public Works Department’s recycling and refuse stations will remain open.

Click here for a complete list of closure information.

About 80 percent of the county’s 4,200 employees are participating in the pay cut and furlough program, according to Assistant County Executive Officer Susan Paul. Brown and Paul, as well as all of the county’s executives and managers, are participating in the furlough, she said.

Paul, the county’s human resources director, and her team have been working for the past several months with union leaders and department directors to finalize the details for a program that was approved by the Board of Supervisors in October.

“We picked the eight days around the holidays as this is traditionally a slow time for the public doing business with the county, and it represented the least disruption to services,” Paul said. “It keeps us accountable and maintains our commitment to customer service for the public.”

William Boyer is Santa Barbara County‘s communications director.

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