Elgin furloughs some employees through 2020 due to COVID-19

  • The city of Elgin has implemented employee furloughs and other measures amounting to $1.4 million in cuts to personnel expenses to deal with the economic downfall of the COVID-19 pandemic.

      The city of Elgin has implemented employee furloughs and other measures amounting to $1.4 million in cuts to personnel expenses to deal with the economic downfall of the COVID-19 pandemic. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted5/12/2020 1:00 AM

The city of Elgin has implemented employee furloughs and other measures amounting to $1.4 million in cuts to personnel expenses to deal with the economic downfall of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The furloughs, or unpaid time off, were effective Monday and equate to 10% salary cuts for city department heads and 5% for other salaried employees through the end of 2020, city officials announced.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The measures don't affect union employees and sworn personnel in the police and fire departments. Also, some salaried employees are not being furloughed, such as four supervisors in the 911 call center who fill in for dispatchers, city officials said.

"The actions being implemented today balance our commitment to provide exceptional city services at the lowest possible cost to Elgin's residents and businesses, with the need to reduce organizational expenses during these unprecedented economic conditions," City Manager Rick Kozal said. "We share in the community's suffering and remain mindful of what will likely be a difficult road back to recovery."

A total of 113 salaried employees are being furloughed, ranging from Kozal -- with a $219,384 salary plus more than $22,000 in additional pay due to longevity or other contributions as per his contract -- to the facility supervisor at the Eastside Recreation Center, whose salary is $55,300.

The city already had furloughed some employees either by reducing hours or cutting them altogether, including 174 in the parks and recreation department and 27 at the Hemmens Cultural Center, city spokeswoman Molly Gillespie said. Those measures were to expire early this month but will now continue until July 6.

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The city has 674 full-time and 389 part-time employees.

The city has permanently eliminated two police department civilian positions held by employees who recently left, and it is not filling six positions, such as the assistant city manager open since mid-February and for which the city had planned to conduct a search.

Together, the measures will yield about $1.4 million in cuts this year, city officials said.

Fire and police department personnel are dealing with heightened risk during the pandemic, city officials said. As for union employees, there is "the expectation they will join all city staff with shared sacrifice in 2021 and participate in organization-wide wage freezes totaling $1.7 million."

Just a month ago, the city announced S & P Ratings called Elgin "well-positioned" to withstand the effects of the pandemic in the near term due to healthy reserves and diversification of revenues.

"The true economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the city's economy is still unknown," Kozal said. "Not unlike a hurricane churning offshore, the city will not know the actual intensity of the impact until it makes landfall. But nothing prevents prudent, preemptive action in anticipation of that looming threat."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Other government bodies in the suburbs have cut some personnel costs due to the pandemic.

The Schaumburg Park District "made the difficult decision" to furlough about 65% of its staff and eliminate 20 full-time positions, Executive Director Tony LaFrenere said.

At the Libertyville Sports Complex, all part-time staff were temporarily laid off or furloughed when the facility was closed in March. The Lake County Board is expected to approve Tuesday a policy allowing furloughs.

• Daily Herald staff writers Russell Lissau and Mick Zawislak contributed to this report.

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