Answering a call to participate in Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s cost-saving measure, Councilman David James, D-6, will take a week-long furlough to help fill the deficit in the 2011-2012 budget.
Earlier this week, Council President Jim King asked fellow members to join the mayor’s program that requires all Metro employees making over $70,000 to take an unpaid week as a way to patch up the $22.5 million shortfall. Those below that threshold are being asked to participate on a voluntary basis.
James says the city’s deficit is a situation where everyone must make sacrifices in order to avoid layoffs and further reduction in services.
“I think it’s important when others are making sacrifices and we’re elected leaders of the city to show that we’re concerned and that we want to show our party and do our part,” he says.Council members earn $42,475 annually and cannot legally take a furlough as elected officials, but city lawmakers can reimburse Metro Government for any unpaid days taken.
James is the first to volunteer for the program and his legislative aide will also take a week-long furlough. Spokesmen for both caucuses say other council members support the idea and will participate.
It is unclear, however, whether city lawmakers will follow Fischer’s lead and reimburse the city for a week’s worth of pay. Council members also haven’t indicated if their aides will take a week-long furlough as well. When faced with previous budget shortfalls, a handful of council members balked at the idea of furloughing their staff when it was proposed.
The current salary range for legislative assistants varies from $26,000 to $65,000 per year, and some lawmakers have argued in the past that their staffers face economic hardships.
James says he strongly supports the mayor’s plan, but isn’t sure if other council members will do their part in sharing the city’s burden.
“I don’t know if they will participate in the furlough program or not,” he says. “I think each individual council member is going to have to look at their particular situation and determine if they’re going to be able to or not.”