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City of Renton Non-Represented Employees to Take Furloughs, Forego Deferred Compensation

March 10, 2009

For more information contact:

Nancy Carlson, Human Resources and Risk Management Administrator, 425-430-7656
Iwen Wang, Finance and Information Services Administrator, 425-430-6858
Preeti Shridhar, Communications Director, 425-430-6569

RENTON—The City of Renton’s non-represented employees, including management staff and other non-union workers, are willing to sacrifice their pay and benefits in order to avoid layoffs and continue to maintain the high quality service for the citizens of Renton. The employees will take three days off without pay, and forego 1.3% of their deferred compensation.

The city continues to face a deficit despite a reduction in the 2009 budget by 7%, which required leaving 36 authorized positions unfilled. The current forecast estimates a gap of about $6 million between revenues and expenditures. About $4.5 million will be covered by prior year fund balances for capital equipment and projects, and citywide budget reductions. An additional $1.5 million is required to balance the 2009 budget.

"We know that the Renton community is experiencing the pain of this recession,” said Jay Covington, Chief Administrative Officer. “The Mayor has asked us to do everything we can to continue to provide our citizens with the high quality services they expect during these difficult times. Unfortunately, we continue to see large declines in revenues and must take actions to ensure that our budget remains in balance.  We are proud of the response from our managers and non-represented employees. We have also asked our unions to see if they could help us close the current budget gap of $1.5 million so that we do not need to reduce our work force."

The city employs about 100 non-represented workers. The three furlough days, if applied to all non-represented employees, would save the city about $135,000 for the general fund. Foregoing 1.3% of their deferred compensation would generate an additional $100,000. 

“We are very concerned about the threat of layoffs, particularly since the economic crisis has made it increasingly difficult for people to find jobs,” said Peter Hahn, Deputy Administrator, Public Works Department. “We realize that it will take some shared sacrifice to get us through these hard times, and are willing to do our part.”

The city’s collective bargaining units also continue to have discussions with their membership to determine whether they can also commit to pay/benefit cuts to save about 2% in the city’s overall payroll costs during fiscal year 2009 to avoid layoffs. The city’s bargaining unions include Local 2170 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) representing employees in all city departments, except the police department; the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), Local 864, representing both firefighters and battalion chiefs; and the Renton Police Officers' Guild, representing both police officers and non-commissioned employees in the police department.  

 “Our membership is currently pursuing several alternatives, including an option to consider unpaid furlough days to help ease the budget crunch,” said Pat Miller, President of Local 2170, AFSCME.

 “The Local’s representatives have been meeting with the city to discuss options and strategies to address the budget deficit,” said Doug McDonald, President, IAFF, Local 864.

 “We share the same goals with our leadership—to propose a plan that minimizes or avoids layoffs and maximizes our ability to preserve the outstanding gains we have made in reducing crime," said James Gould, Vice-President, Renton Police Officers Guild.

The city hopes to reach agreements with all the bargaining units by March 16, 2009, to determine whether it can achieve the required savings, and avoid layoffs to save about 18 jobs.