MARION — The City of Marion has furloughed more than 40 employees to curb revenue loss during the state’s stay-at-home order designed to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Speaking with The Southern Wednesday, Cody Moake, Mayor Mike Absher’s chief of staff, said the furloughs began Wednesday. Staff was informed of the decision Monday.
He said the difficult decision was made last week to furlough 43 city employees who work in facilities that were closed because of the pandemic. This includes The HUB, Boyton Street Community Center, the Cultural and Civic Center, The Pavilion and the Marion Carnegie Library. Moake said the furloughs will save the city about $30,000 a week in salaries.
“We don’t know long-term realistically how this is going to affect our finances,” Moake said of the COVID-19 virus that has swept the globe, killing thousands and upending daily life with stay-home and shelter-in-place orders.
Asked if the city left any employees on at the facilities impacted to continue maintenance and other basic functions, Moake said no. All employees at those locations have been furloughed.
Moake said the vote was made Friday. He said Mayor Mike Absher had the power to make the furloughs himself, but called each City Council member individually to go over the issues with them and ask their opinions. There was unanimous support for the decision.
Moake said Gov. J.B. Prtizker’s executive orders for residents to stay home and for nonessential businesses to close cut the revenue those facilities used to support themselves. The City of Marion does not have a property tax and relies almost entirely on sales tax to support its operations. He said Marion was unique both in this and in the fact that it had so many publicly funded event spaces.
Moake said during the furloughed time, employees will still retain benefits like health insurance. However, because they are not clocking hours, Moake said pension payments will not be made. However, because employees worked and were paid in the month of April, they will receive a time credit for their pensions.
Moake said the furloughs will last at least until April 30, which is the current end of Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. However, he said this could be extended if the governor changes the end date of the order. He said it will take a few days for the facilities to be operational again after the order is lifted.
While students begin distance learning this week, municipalities are engaged in distance governing as government functions find a way to keep …
The cities of Carbondale and Murphysboro said furloughs are not on the table for their employees.
“I can certainly understand the decision as these are extraordinary times. Business closures will reduce revenue to cities which will require all of us to make really difficult decisions over the next few months to ensure that our most essential public services remain intact,” Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams wrote in an email. However, he said furloughs were not being discussed by his city.
Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens said there are no nonessential employees at the city level, so all would remain working through the pandemic.
COVID-19 numbers in Southern Illinois
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