SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The COVID-19 pandemic has left a massive budget deficit for local municipalities combatting the virus. With no help from the federal government, Onondaga County is looking to furlough and layoff staff to save nearly $6 million in 2020.
The Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) and the county have reached an agreement that includes 3 parts: voluntary furloughs, involuntary furloughs, and layoffs.
Onondaga County will first offer voluntary furloughs for employees. Voluntary furloughs can be one or two days per week but have to, at a minimum, total 1 week but can be longer.
Depending on the response to voluntary furloughs, the county will move to involuntary furloughs. Furloughs could begin as soon as September 12 and last through March 31, 2021. Employees can be called back to work if needed sooner.
The third component to the agreement is reopening the voluntary retirement option for employees. The county offered the incentive to close some of the budget gap earlier in the year. Employees eligible will have until next Tuesday to take the offer.
McMahon said the county will try to meet their $6 million goal with furloughs first but if it’s not enough or a county service is being cut, then layoffs will happen.
The legislature gave the county flexibility to lay off up to 250 positions earlier this month.
“There are a lot of variables,” said McMahon. “We’ve become the leanest county government in the history of the county through this pandemic. The reality is this is what we have to do to balance the budget in 2020 and we need to put forward a budget in 2021 as well.”
Variables like sales tax payments increasing can help fill the budget hole. Onondaga County received a cleanup payment for the month of July. It was better than expected but still off by 8%. Onondaga County is now down $29.5 million for the 2020 budget.