Future of Biloxi furloughs undecided

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The city of Biloxi could save more than $600,000 by initiating city employee furloughs.  However, the idea of mandating what amounts to six days of unpaid vacation for each city employee didn't sit well among the city council, or employees.

"No one likes to do it, none of us wanted to do that but you have to do things," said Biloxi Ward 5 council member Tom Wall.

The city council agreed to the furloughs when it passed the latest city budget.  However, when it came time to vote and put the furloughs in action only five members were present. The furloughs were defeated 3 to 2.

Tom Wall and Clark Griffith voted in favor while George Lawrence, Bill Stallworth and David Fayard, voted against the furlough.

"It was a complete surprise. We had a consensus before we actually put it on the agenda in the form of a vote," said Wall.

While everyone might not agree with the furloughs, the mayor says it's the easiest way to balance the budget, and that the only other real option would be layoffs.

"We have to balance the budget. It has to be done. There is no way around it, and it will be done," said Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway.

According to city officials, the number of employees, wages, and spending has grown while funds continually shrink.  If that doesn't change, the mayor says it could be trouble for the city.  That why he says this isn't the last of the furlough proposal.

"I think we're going to have to do it I think the board is going to have to do the responsible thing for the tax payers of the city," said Holloway.

According to the mayor, the proposal will be put back on the agenda and reconsidered in the next city council meeting.  If it still doesn't pass, the city will look for another option of saving money.

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