LOWVILLE — The Lewis County board approved a memorandum of understanding with the local CSEA union in a special meeting Wednesday evening and began accepting volunteers on Thursday.
Legislators voted last week to furlough about 26 employees across all departments for the 12 weeks between May 18 and July 31 for a savings of about $139,000, but those furloughs couldn’t be finalized until the agreement was signed.
According to County Manager Ryan Piche, a mixture of 23 full time and part time employees volunteered by the end of the day on Thursday and more are anticipated on Friday.
Volunteers need to be approved by department heads to ensure that all services are still covered during the furlough period, Mr. Piche said.
People on unpaid leave through this program will be eligible for both unemployment and the $600 weekly COVID-related unemployment and will retain their health insurance and status in the retirement system.
Board Chairman Lawrence Dolhof said the Shared Work Program was also presented to the CSEA.
In that program, employees would have their hours cut between 20 and 60 percent weekly when they aren’t needed, but they would be eligible for unemployment.
Shared Work is anticipated to save about $177,000 over the 12-week period, however it was not brought to a vote in the board meeting.
“Every little bit helps,” Mr. Dolhof said, comparing the savings to the county’s $5 million anticipated budget shortfall.
With the furloughs scheduled to begin on Monday, the final decisions regarding volunteers are expected on Friday.