Thursday, April 16, 2009

Concord leaders take 5 percent pay cut to help ease budget woes

CONCORD — Top Concord employees have volunteered to take a 5-percent pay cut next fiscal year to help ease the city's $10 million budget shortfall.

City Manager Dan Keen and his entire executive team — 11 people in all — will take the hit by taking 13 unpaid furlough days between July and next June. On top of that, city contributions to their 401K plans will be suspended, as will their "pay for performance" merit awards and annual $2,000 flexible benefit payments.

"In times such as these, I believe it is critically important that those in management positions demonstrate leadership," Keen said in a news release.

Concord has an $80 million general fund budget and 499 full-time employees. Sales tax and property tax revenues, which make up 66 percent of the city's budget, have taken a double-digit dive, leaving a $10 million hole.

Back in January, the City Council approved using $3.2 million in reserves and agreed to $4 million in cuts, including eliminating 18 jobs that were either contracted out or vacant. But that didn't quite close the money gap, and Keen said at the time that more would need to be done.

"Folks, it's not just raining, it's pouring, " said Mayor Laura Hoffmeister in January. "But it will get better. Hang in there."

Keen also recommends that 63 other employees, including other managers, participate in the 5-percent reduction. Under Keen's plan, employees would also give up the performance-based Advertisementmerit raises (if they're entitled to "step" increases) and the flexible benefit payments. If these other employees join in, the reduction equates to an approximate $640,000 in savings, Keen says.

The management team will meet with union representatives to discuss further possible cuts.

Keen said in the news release, "I wish I could promise no cuts to city programs or further impacts to employees, but at this point, there are no guarantees." Because no one knows when the economy will recover, he said, it's hard to know when the cuts will stop.

There are budget workshops scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on May 4 and May 6 at City Hall, 1950 Parkside Drive, Concord. The meetings will be televised locally on channels 28 and 29, and will also be available on the city's Web site afterward. Budget hearings are scheduled for June 1 and June 22.

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