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Here’s how Macon-Bibb is keeping its employees from being furloughed

Macon-Bibb County public works employees redirect a ditch along Wesleyan Drive North near the entrance of the Brickyard Golf Club Thursday afternoon. Erosion has caused rain water to run onto the road during storms.
Macon-Bibb County public works employees redirect a ditch along Wesleyan Drive North near the entrance of the Brickyard Golf Club Thursday afternoon. Erosion has caused rain water to run onto the road during storms. jvorhees@macon.com

Hundreds of Macon-Bibb County government employees were not going to be paid for several holidays as part of the budget commissioners adopted in the summer of 2018.

However, a couple of months later the County Commission pledged to find a way to restore that pay — and now a plan detailing how that would be done will go before commissioners next week. An ordinance outlines how some of the savings from unfilled positions will cover the 1.15 percent in salary reductions, also the equivalent of three unpaid holidays.

The measure would transfer about $210,000 of the savings from various departments to other departments to cover the holiday pay.

“This is moving money around to departments that may not have had (enough) money ... from their vacancies,” said Chris Floore, assistant to the county manager for public affairs.

He later added, “The total needed to be found in savings across all 1,700 to 1,800 employees was about $867,000.”

Commissioner Virgil Watkins said using the unfilled positions savings from the first half of the fiscal year is a way for commissioners to follow through on their promise.

“While we’re still long-term trying to rebuild our reserves and that’s going to take awhile, as far as the short-term with this fiscal year, we’re doing pretty good,” Watkins said.

When the $161 million general fund budget was adopted some Macon-Bibb employees were already exempt from taking three unpaid holidays. They worked for constitutional officers, such as judges and the sheriff, who argued that the county could not legally force their staff to take unpaid holidays. Instead, they were able to make other budget cuts to prevent any furloughs.

Unpaid holidays were just one of the ways officials were trying to save money or bring in more revenue for the financially strapped county. That also included a 3-mill property tax increase and reducing the amount of funding some outside agencies received.

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