PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Beset by financial difficulties, city officials announced on Thursday that they would hold two more shutdown days for certain employees this year in order to cope with the losses.
City Manager Jim Bennett said that public works, airport and solid waste department employees each will take two days off this month.
This is the second time since August that the city has used such a mechanism to save money because the state has gutted its operating budget, Bennett said Thursday.
“We continue to be disappointed by decisions that were made in Augusta that are significantly impacting our employees and residents,” he said. “Announcing more shutdown days is unfortunate, but necessary. The City Council and I continue to seek creative solutions to balance the budget and serve the best interests of residents, employees and business owners.”
In August, city officials said that 22 percent of the city’s operating budget was covered by state revenue sharing funds. In order to balance the budget, the council needed to cover a $458,533 shortfall created by the state when it reduced revenue sharing by 35 percent. The council decided to cut $50,366 in personnel expenses as part of efforts to eliminate the shortfall.
On Aug. 30, 92 employees — all nonessential city personnel, including salaried workers — were required to take time off without pay. That shutdown day accounted for approximately $12,000 of the projected $50,366 in cuts.
In a continuing effort to balance the city budget, officials have opted to go with more shutdown days.
Solid waste employees will take Nov. 5 and 19 off. The city landfill and recycling center will be closed on those days, but pay-as-you-throw trash collection will continue. Public works employees will take Nov. 6 and 20 off, unless there is inclement weather. If that happens, crews will be brought in to maintain the roads and shutdown days will be rescheduled. Airport employees will take off two days between Nov. 4 and 18, although the airport will not close and there will be no interruption to scheduled flights. Shutdown hours will be obtained through rotating scheduled time off to be set by the airport director.