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OK with no pay on Labor Day
County employees prepare to take first of four unpaid holidays
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Forsyth County News
As employees of Forsyth County prepare to take the first of four unpaid holidays Monday, officials and at least one worker say spirits are still up, despite looming staff and budget cuts.

To battle a growing 2009 budget deficit, the county commission voted last month to make most of the remaining six holidays in 2009 unpaid for those not scheduled to work.

The measure could save $764,250 this year, according to Pat Carson, the county’s personnel services director.

Carson said it’s the first time the county has used unpaid holidays as a money saver.

“In the past, this county has used hiring freezes and budget cuts, but this is the first time they’ve done this,” said Carson, adding “that can be said for a lot of counties right now.”

Many of Forsyth’s 1,389 employees will see a smaller paycheck as a result of the action.

One of those is Debra Carlton, who’s worked at the county senior center on Dahlonega Highway for four years.

Carlton said workers are taking the news in stride.

“Everybody realizes what’s going on with the county,” she said. “A lot of people have agreed that it’s something we have to do to save jobs right now.”

The commission could make decisions next week regarding layoffs.

On Aug. 25, commissioners discussed job cuts to further balance the budget for 2009. The possibilities range from trimming 32 jobs to as many as 100.

County Manager Doug Derrer said he has “heard from a handful of employees and department directors who fully expected cutbacks in some form would take effect for the remainder of 2009 and into 2010.”

“Some employees, as I am, have expressed they are grateful to be employed considering the economic conditions,” Derrer said.

Carson agreed. She said workers “see [unpaid holidays] as one of the measures needing to be taken.”

The commission, whose pay will also be docked for Labor Day, took measures last month to chip away at a $6.2 million budget deficit.

Commissioners voted to use funds from capital projects, vehicle transfer and contingency savings to help offset the financial gap.

Derrer said the challenges of a tough economic situation have presented opportunities to “look closely at all functions of our operations.”

“This has assisted greatly in ensuring we are as lean as possible, but continue to offer the best possible service to the community,” he said.

“During times such as these, our role as a government becomes more clearly defined. We are, in some cases, redefining ourselves daily.”