Temporary Watsonville layoffs begin

December 22, 2008 10:43:22 AM PST
All Watsonville city employees, from the city manager to the city clerk, will be temporarily laid off for two weeks beginning today in order to neutralize a projected $561,000 budget deficit.

The failure of a November ballot measure that would have made permanent a 911 services tax means the city will lose about $415,000 a year, administrative services director Marc Pimentel said.

"That was the major trigger," Pimentel said.

This is the first time the city has enacted a two-week shutdown of services. However, critical services, such as police, fire, water, garbage and sewer service, will still operate.

Library, computer lab, and all administrative services will come to a halt during the two-week break. A non-emergency line for urgent situations that do not require 911 service will be staffed at (831) 471-1151.

Pimentel said an agreement was reached with employees that will allow them to avoid getting hit by two weeks without pay right at the holidays. Instead, the employees agreed to take a 4.6 percent pay cut from January to June, he said.

Employees working in essential services will not have the time off, but will instead be given the option to choose two weeks of layoff days without pay between January and June, Pimentel said.

"So it's a differed layoff," he explained.

City officials are pleased with the way employees have handled the unpaid time off.

"We really are proud of everybody for trying to work together and finding a reasonable solution to this," Pimentel said.


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