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County employees volunteer to cut hours

Kitsap County has instituted a volunteer furlough program, allowing employees to take one or two days off each month in order to reduce expenditures and prevent future layoffs.

As of Monday, 60 workers had agreed to not work for approximately 8,000 hours, accounting for an approximate savings of $250,000.

The money will remain in the general fund.

“In light of everything that’s happening economically, it’s gratifying to see our workers sacrificing so we can continue to provide services,” said North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer.

“I’m impressed by the reaction to this,” said County Administrator Nancy Buonanno Grennan, who will stay home one day a month. “They’re all pulling together to save jobs.”

The action, approved by the county commissioners at Monday night’s meeting, allows full-time benefit eligible employees to volunteer to reduce the number of regular hours worked by up to eight hours every two weeks.

They can also take up to 20 days of leave without pay, also know as “furlough days.”

About half of the volunteers come from the Department of Community Development. The department’s director, Larry Keeton, will take off two days a month.

Many employees, such as Grennan and Keeton, often work more than 40 hours a week but do not receive overtime. Under a volunteer furlough they will submit time sheets reflecting the shorter hours, based on their standard rate of pay.

The action will not affect health benefits or accrued vacation time.

Retirement benefits, which are based on hours worked, will reflect the reduction.

One immediate result, according to Grennan, is that it may take longer to acquire permits or get inspections from the county.

“It won’t be long before the public notices a difference,” she said.

All employees, including department heads, can volunteer for the program but must receive their supervisor’s approval.

While they will be able to opt in and out of the program to reflect emergency situations, employees are requested to commit to the furloughs for the rest of the calendar year for budgeting purposes.

Elected officials are not allowed to volunteer for cutbacks as their salaries are set by state law.

“The recession has had a serious impact on our revenue,” Grennan said. “It is necessary to do this.”

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