WEDNESDAY, May 27 — More than 700 Ingham County employees will be laid off for one day each week in June and July as county officials make a series of virus-related budget cutbacks.
The Ingham County Board of Commissioners voted this week to approve several measures to address budgetary hurdles posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them: One-day layoffs geared at saving $1.3 million on payroll over the summer.
At least 744 of the county’s 1,168 employees will be furloughed one day each week between in June and July, officials said. They will retain their benefits and be automatically enrolled for state unemployment and an extra $600 per week in federal COVID-19 assistance funding.
That means all employees in just about every county department — except about 424 people necessary to maintain public safety or further the county’s COVID-19 response — will see shorter work weeks, longer weekends and a federally induced bump in their weekly paychecks.
Most personnel at the Sheriff’s and Health departments will not be laid off. Union representatives have also indicated their support for the temporary changes, officials said.
“Payroll is the county’s top expense, and to effectively save nearly 20% without harming our employees is an easy win,” County Commissioner Thomas Morgan said in a press release.
Board Chairman Bryan Crenshaw said the resulting disruption to county services will be minimal, noting that some staff may simply work shorter days while others have four-day weeks.
The board also voted to freeze hiring for all nonessential positions through Aug. 31, prohibit all nonessential out-of-state staff travel and place restrictions on other discretionary staff spending.
“The effect of COVID-19 on the county’s budget has yet to be fully realized,” Morgan said, noting that state revenue sharing and property taxes will almost certainly decline. “Families across our community are having to tighten their belts and do more with less, and we need to do the same if we hope to protect the vital county services that so many of our neighbors rely on.”
County officials have also asked for budget submissions from various departments to show where discretionary programs can be suspended to cut each department’s expenses by 10%.
“Ingham County has a healthy budgetary reserve, the result of sound fiscal practices in previous years,” County Clerk Barb Byrum said. “However, we should not rely on those reserves alone to get us through this crisis. The preventative measures represent clear direction from the board to the county’s department heads to chart a course to fiscal responsibility.”
The city of Lansing took similar steps this week to shift about 500 employees to a four-day work week for June and July. The move is expected to save about $1.5 million in payroll while providing staff with shorter work weeks, longer weekends and bigger paychecks.
City officials said approximately 500 of the city’s 800 employees will participate in the furlough program, leaving at work the personnel needed to maintain public safety and other essential services such as those provided by the Lansing Police and Fire departments and the 54-A District Court offices.
Some city services may experience delays, said Mayor Andy Schor, but officials were not immediately available to elaborate on the scope of those possible disruptions in Lansing.