They've upped gas and water bills, increased parking meter fees, frozen hiring. Now Long Beach officials are asking workers to take a day off without pay during the coming budget year.
The "voluntary furlough" program approved by the City Council this week is a relatively meager part of the $40 million in belt-tightening that was required to balance the city's $364.7-million general fund budget. The measure is expected to raise $150,000, city budget officials say.
But it may be the most talked about among city employees. "We've gotten every kind of opinion you can imagine," says Brian Burns, president of union that represents 3,800 of the city's 5,300 full-time and part-time workers.
The consensus is that the offer of unpaid days off won't inspire a wave of civic spiritedness ("I don't make that much money as it is," said one Police Department employee) but that the city should reach its goal.