Local Politics

Harnett government considers employee furloughs

Posted June 16, 2011 6:26 p.m. EDT
Updated June 17, 2011 7:41 a.m. EDT

— More than 100 people gathered at a public hearing Thursday night to shares opinions on Harnett County's proposed budget, which would require county workers to take to furlough day once a month.

Under the proposed budget, property taxes would increase by 5 cents per $100 valuation.

"For the average taxpayer, based on a home value of $134,000, the impact would be a tax increase of $67 annually, or $5.58 per month," County Manager Scott Sauer said in an e-mail to WRAL News.

Kenneth Wiseman had never spoken at a council meeting before, but he was compelled to speak at Thursday’s hearing when he heard the tax rate might be raised to 5 cents.

“I live on a budget. I’ll bet you 99 percent of the people in here live on a budget. You need to learn how to live on a budget,” Wiseman said.

Commissioners say the added increase will avoid the layoffs of 27 employees.

This year's budget proposal is $5 million less than last year's budget and requires county employees to take 12 furlough days as year. 

The proposed furlough would affect county's 1,000 workers, including law enforcement, EMS paramedics, public health, social services and parks and recreation.

Several residents voiced concern that Sauer received a 5 percent raise in February while workers might be losing a day of pay. 

Sauer said he declined a raise last year, but the council voted to give it to him this year. 

When asked, Sauer said he deserved the raise because "I work hard. I took a raise, and I was given a raise by the board, which is very comparable to the raises that other employees have received in the last 30 days." 

The board is expected to vote on the budget next Thursday but could push the vote back a few weeks.