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CALIFORNIA BRIEFING / SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Government workers face two-week furlough

October 25, 2008|Steve Chawkins

Most of Santa Barbara County's 4,200 employees will be idled for two weeks starting in December because of a worsening budget crisis, officials said. The alternative would be to eliminate as many as 200 jobs.

Public safety workers such as sheriff's deputies will keep working, said county Chief Executive Michael F. Brown. But, under a unanimous decision this week by county supervisors, most county offices will be shut or staffed only by skeleton crews Dec. 22 through Jan. 4.

"It was the only way we could preserve services and save jobs," he said. "Once they go away, you don't necessarily get them back."

Months ago, officials recognized that foreclosures, falling stock values and increasing pension costs would require cutbacks. Nearly 80% of the county's employees will be affected by the furlough, although their pay will be cut over 40 weeks rather than all at once. Other workers will see scheduled pay increases delayed.

Additional measures may be needed when the county begins its next fiscal year in July 2009, Brown said.

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