Carroll County's 611 full-time employees will lose two paid holidays, and most of them will be required to take two additional days off without pay, the county commissioners announced Friday.
The four-day furlough plan, which is expected to save the county nearly $230,000, is expected to have little impact on county services, the commissioners said.
The plan will affect employees who work in the County Office Building, the Sheriff's Department, the State's Attorney's Office and in the Circuit Court.
"This will allow us to save money without hurting the citizens," said Commissioner Vice President Elmer C. Lippy. "We fiddled around with the idea of Christmas-week furloughs, but decided we couldn't close down the county government for two days."
TheChristmas-week closing had some appeal. With the holiday on Wednesday, the offices already were scheduled to be closed. And, according toFriday's commissioner's agenda, Monday is the only day with any business scheduled.
But Lippy said the commissioners wanted to be openin case county residents had year-end property transactions or otherbusiness.
"We really had to look at what was good for constituents," Lippy said.
The two holidays for which employees will not be paid are Good Friday (April 17) and Memorial Day (May 25). Two additional unpaid days off will be required of employees making $20,000 or more. Departmental managers are expected to determine those additionaldays.
The furloughs come at a time when the commissioners are grappling with a $3.7 million cut in state funding announced earlier this month. The county had already set aside $1.2 million to deal with the most recent cuts.
Even with that emergency fund -- built up by delaying county building and road construction projects -- the commissioners still needed to shave $2.5 million from the $110 million operating budget.
With the furlough saving of $230,000 and the reservefund of $1.2 million, the county still needs to make up nearly $2.3 million.
The commissioners have asked the school board to chop about $1.9 million from its budget; the remaining $400,000 will be absorbed with small-scale cuts and from the county's contingency fund.
The school board's share of the county's budget is nearly $52 million. It was not clear Friday what steps the school board would take to meet the $1.9 million reduction, but furloughs -- suggested by the commissioners -- did not appear a likely route for the county's schools.
The furloughs may not be necessary should the General Assembly void Gov. William Donald Schaefer's recent budget-cutting plan, Lippy said.
"We wanted to announce this as early as possible, so that if the amount of money cut from us is less than what we expect, we can always reduce the length of the furloughs," he said. "Nothing is set in stone."
The four-day furlough plan marks the first time county employees have been directly affected by the almost two-year-long battle against budget cuts. The commissioners earlier this fall had warned that further cuts from Annapolis would leave them little room to maneuver before workers would be tapped for savings.