Gilroy City Hall ends furlough Fridays

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For the first time in two years, City Hall will be open for
business five days a week. Furloughs at City Hall will officially
come to an end Friday, the first day of the City of Gilroy’s new
two-year budget. Full article
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For the first time in two years, City Hall will be open for business five days a week.

Furloughs at City Hall will officially come to an end Friday, the first day of the City of Gilroy’s new two-year budget.

“Two years is a long time for people to have such a cut in pay,” Councilwoman Cat Tucker said. “As long as we can afford it, I’m all for eliminating (furloughs).”

Furloughs for the first and third Fridays of each month took effect July 1, 2009 as the city grasped for ways to cover a $5 million shortfall. The Gilroy City Council approved additional closures for all remaining Fridays on April 5, 2010, though city officials were still allowed to attend work for what became known as “Power Fridays.”

Ending furloughs will cost the city roughly $1.2 million during the next two years, a figure the city can afford thanks to previously unanticipated jumps in revenue, City Administrator Tom Haglund said.

He said the new budget did not include cost-of-livng increases for employees, but that salaries would be returned to pre-furlough totals.

“I think it (enacting furloughs) worked very well. We got what we needed to do out of it, and restoring the hours we had previously is a good thing,” City Councilman Bob Dillon said. “And I enjoy seeing people going to back to work full time.”

The Council unanimously approved the new budget May 16, though Councilman Perry Woodward said Tuesday he was worried it could be “a little early” to eliminate furloughs.

“I hope we’re not jumping the gun. It’s a tough call,” Woodward said. “My view is that City Hall should be open during business hours and we shouldn’t have furloughs. If there is a problem with our payroll, we should address our payroll and not go dark at any time.”

If people were unhappy with the Friday closures, they certainly didn’t make much noise, Dillon said.

“I haven’t heard a thing. I just don’t think it affected their lives much,” he said.

Woodward agreed there wasn’t much outrage from residents over the furloughs.

“I don’t recall ever hearing anyone complain that having City Hall closed on Friday was a major pain,” he said.

Tucker, however, said she had heard complaints, mostly from those who had trouble adjusting to City Hall closing on Fridays.

“People just had to learn to rearrange their schedule, but there were a few comments, yes,” Tucker said. “They said, ‘I went down to City Hall to get my permit or I went down there for a last-second thing, and I forgot offices were closed.’ “

She added, “It’s inconvenient when you go down there and forget. If they happen to choose Friday and they go down and it’s closed, then it does affect them.”

Gilroy’s ability to end furloughs was a sign of the city’s improving financial situation, not ignored by the rest of Santa Clara County.

At a recent Cities Association Of Santa Clara County meeting, representatives from other cities applauded when Tucker announced Gilroy would be ending furloughs, she said.

“We’re one of the few cities in Santa Clara County that’s in great financial shape,” Tucker said. “I’m not saying you have to pat the City Council on the back, but the city is strong.”

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