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Politics & Government

City Of Milwaukee Poised To Furlough Or Cut Hours For More Than 700 Employees

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To help make up for lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Milwaukee is ready to furlough or reduce hours for more than 700 employees, including library personnel, building inspectors, and municipal court workers.

Updated Friday at 2:28 p.m. CT

The City of Milwaukee is poised to furlough or reduce hours for more than 700 employees to make up for some of the revenue it’s lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

Approved Friday by the Common Council, about 260 employees will be furloughed and about 500 will have their hours cut. This won’t apply to public health employees, police, or firefighters — only those who either can’t work remotely or have less work to do right now. That includes, for example, library personnel, building inspectors, and municipal court workers.

>>Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

City Budget Manager Dennis Yaccarino presented the furlough plan to a Common Council committee Wednesday morning.

“There is nothing that I’ve talked to departments about that is dramatic at all,” Yaccarino said. “This will be maybe one or two or three employees here and there. The furloughs will affect mainly the library, which is closed at this point.”

COVID-19 has disrupted city revenue streams, including money collected from parking citations and court fees. The loss is expected to add up to $26 million between March and August. The furloughs and work-hour reductions would only make about a $3 million dent in the shortfall.

The city is turning to furloughs now in part because unemployed people are eligible for an additional $600 weekly benefit through the federal CARES Act.

City Employment Relations Director Maria Monteagudo said with state and federal benefits combined, affected employees should be “made whole.”

“The people who should be subjected to a furlough plan needed to be limited to the people who make $50,000 or less,” Monteagudo said. “Because when you do the math of the state unemployment weekly benefit and you include the $600 enhanced benefit, those are the individuals who will be made whole or receive a weekly benefit that may be a little higher than the weekly salary they get from the City of Milwaukee.”

Furloughs would be in place through July, which is when the special unemployment benefits are scheduled to end.

The city also is looking for federal help covering coronavirus-related expenses. City officials plan to apply for more than $100 million in federal relief grants for that purpose.

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