Lawton city offices closed Friday for furlough day - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Lawton city offices closed Friday for furlough day

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - This Friday, all non-essential employees with the city of Lawton will be off work, taking a mandatory, unpaid furlough day.

The furlough day was implemented by the City to save money and balance the budget. There will still be a few departments open, including the police and fire departments, the waste water treatment facility, and the water treatment plant.

Each furlough day saves the City of Lawton about $160,000. This is the second furlough day the city has had, the other coming just before Christmas, which Lawton City Manager Jerry Ihler said will save the city around $320,000.

Lawton City Manager Jerry Ihler said he knows most people are not huge fans of the furlough days.

"Certainly it's not something we wanted to do as a part of the budget process but in this particular instance, we were looking at what kind of services and what kind of expenditures would we have to cut in order to provide a balanced budget,” Ihler said.

Ihler said the money saved with the furlough days will actually be used to give long awaited merit and pay increases to several city employees.

"I believe it’s now two of the last three years the employees did not get a step increase. We did not want to go through another year without a step increase."

Ihler said the cuts being made by the furlough days are actually much less than the increases the employees will get through their step increases.

“How much is two furlough days to an employee? It's 0.75-percent of their pay. A step increase for some employees is five-percent, for others it's three-percent, the third group gets two and a half percent."

The City had a furlough day the Friday before Christmas. This one comes the Friday of Memorial Weekend. Ihler said those dates were very intentional.

"Thought process again is unfavorable condition, not something we want to do, but something we have to do to be able to have that balanced budget, yet still provide the step increases,” Ihler said. “So, we thought lets give them a four day weekend so they can spend it at home with their families."

The furlough days will help balance this year's budget but the city is already hard at work preparing next year's budget, which Ihler said he hopes will be approved at Tuesday night's city council meeting.

"Next year's budget does not have any furlough days in there for the employees so no employee will be taking a day off,” Ihler said. “But unfortunately, because of the reduction in revenues, it does not have any step increases in there either."

Ihler said the essential employees working Friday are not excluded from the furloughs. Each department was instructed to have employees take their two furlough days earlier in the year.

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