The city of Dallas Friday informed 472 employees that they will be furloughed without pay effective May 13 through July 31, 2020. It comes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which caused a $25-million-dollar-drop in Dallas sales tax revenues that help support the city budget.
The information was shared in letters to employees and memos to Dallas City Council Members from City Manager T.C. Broadnax Friday.
“We have worked as hard as possible to minimize the impact on our residents and colleagues. Today, I had to make a very difficult but necessary decision to take the first step in our Workforce Stabilization Plan,” Broadnax said in the employee letter.
Dallas City Council Member Omar Narvaez said city employees are like family.
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"This is a hard decision and one that I definitely don’t want to do and definitely don’t like," Narvaez said. "We're in critical condition at this point."
Some employees may be better off furloughed because the will now be eligible for extra Federal money from the CARES act.
"That could be anywhere from $300 to $600 a week, added to their unemployment," Narvaez said.
The furloughed employees will remain city employees and receive health benefits during their unpaid time off.
They come from 10 different city departments. All had been receiving full city pay since March when they were told to stay at home.
Many worked in city facilities which remain closed due to the pandemic.
Parks & Recreation has 235 furloughs. Libraries have 187. The Office of Arts & Culture has 32 furloughs. were included in the furloughs. Seven other city departments have single digit numbers of furloughs.
Police and Fire Departments were exempt from the paid staff reduction.
“This furlough does not impact essential workers or our ability to deliver core services to the residents of Dallas,” Broadnax said.
The manager's letter said the city will roll out a “Return to Work” plan on how to safely reopen some city facilities next week. But social distancing requirements may reduce the number of workers who were assigned to certain facilities before.
"How do we do it safely? And how many employees will that actually take because obviously we can’t open a library the way we used to have them open," Narvaez said.
The city of Dallas budget crisis was detailed for city council members in a briefing Wednesday. Mayor Eric Johnson described the sales tax plunge as “major historic devastation” to the city budget.
Friday’s letter to employees said an even larger shortfall of between $73 million and $134 million is forecast for next year’s city budget. It said intermittent furlough days, additional extended furloughs and/or reductions in force may be necessary in the future.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.