Plymouth County workers ordered to take unpaid days off

Tamara Race

For the second straight year, Plymouth County workers are facing furloughs.

County commissioners Tuesday night ordered all county workers to take one unpaid day in each of the remaining eight pay periods to close an anticipated $112,000 budget deficit before July 1.

If revenues increase, the furloughs will be called off, commissioners said.

If revenues decline further, employees could face more cuts.

County officials have reduced a $2.2 million shortfall to $112,000 already this year.

A dramatic drop in real estate recording fees at the Registry of Deeds caused by a slumping real estate market is blamed for the budget problem.

Registry fees pay for more than half of the county’s $11 million budget.

A down payment from the anticipated sale of the Plymouth courthouse and county commissioners building might be enough to end the furloughs, but commissioners aren’t taking any chances.

Commissioner Timothy McMullen fears revenue estimates might be optimistic.

“I’m leery of the $125,000 from the sale of sand and gravel by the end of the year, and Registry revenues might fall further,” he said. “I’m not a fan of furloughs, but it’s too late for layoffs. We’ve put this off as long as we could.”

Commissioner John Riordan said furloughs were better than layoffs.

County workers agreed.

“I’m all for it,” Madge Lawrence said. “I’m all for saving jobs in this economy.”

Maria Egan agreed, especially since she would have been on the layoff list.

Both women work at the Registry of Deeds.

County workers include Registry of Deeds workers, employees in the county commissioners offices, Plymouth County treasurer and his staff, maintenance workers and a few district court workers.

County Administrator Troy Clarkson said an eight-day furlough would save about $144,000.

Commissioners will open courthouse bids at the end of the month and select a winning bid within about two weeks. The winning bidder must make a 10 percent non-refundable deposit.

Commissioners hope the sale of the two buildings will fetch at least $1 million.

County workers lost about the same number of days last year to close a budget deficit.

Most were glad to have a decision last night rather than face weeks of anxiety over job security.

Tamara Race may be reached attrace@ledger.com.