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Tue, Sept. 22

City of Williams announces furloughs, budget cuts

Williams City Council. (Loretta McKenney/WGCN)

Williams City Council. (Loretta McKenney/WGCN)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Aiming to cut costs, the Williams City Council voted April 23 to furlough or not-fill 19 positions with the city for a 90-day period because of the economic situation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The furloughed positions include six full-time employees. The city plans to also leave seven currently unfilled positions vacant, not fill two positions vacant upon retirement, and not hire four seasonal positions.

The furloughed or vacant positions include seven from the Parks and Recreation Department, four from the Williams Police Department, two from the Williams Visitor Center, one from the Williams Fire Department, one from the Sanitation Department, one from the Maintenance Department, one from the Finance Department, one from the Golf Course and one from the city garage/motor pool.

“We recommend that we furlough these people for 90 days and pay the insurance for the employees that currently have insurance for that 90 day timeframe,” said City Councilman Don Dent. “Furloughs are based on staff and committee’s review of services that are needed to keep the city operating. Needs can and will change as guidelines from state and federal officials change.”

The city council took recommendations from a committee made up of council members Don Dent, Bernie Hiemenz and Mike Cowan, who worked with City Manager Chase Waggoner and Finance Director Barbara Ashley to create a COVID-19 budget plan.

Dent said furloughed positions are based on what the state says the city can operate.

“Some services may not be able to open based on guidelines we are being told to follow,” he said.

Dent said the committee is looking at money the city has saved and at worst-case scenarios for if the economy doesn’t reopen soon.

“If things gets worse, these may not be the only layoffs that we have,” he said.

Dent said the city will continue to pay insurance for the furloughed employees.

In addition to employee furloughs and a hiring freeze, the city will only perform normal or emergency repairs to keep all departments functioning. There will be no capital spending or new projects.

“We don’t know where our revenue is going to be,” Dent said. “Our sales tax is going to drop flat, some of our receivables from the utilities are down because number one, people aren’t using as much utility, and number two some are choosing not to pay.”

The city’s street light replacement project has been tabled and employees will only be replacing lights with LED bulbs as needed.

The electric conversion project on the west side of Williams will continue. The bids are being reviewed by KR Saline and the city anticipates awarding the bid at a later date.

The city has also reviewed the Sanitation Department’s residential service. The council has decided to discontinue the recycle service, and refuse will be collected just once a week.

“Recycle programs in many communities do not work at all and we found the same thing,” Dent said. “We’re paying the same tonnage to the penny to dump our recycle as we do our regular trash because there is no value in recycling anything anymore.”

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