Thursday, May 7, 2020

Westland, Canton furlough, lay off employees

Canton Township Hall
Both Canton Township and the City of Westland have been forced to furlough employees as the financial impact of the coronavirus wreaks havoc with municipal revenues.
Canton Township has officially laid off 350 part-time employees and put full-time township workers on a partial furlough last week. The decision was made during an online meeting of the board of trustees early this month.
Revenue from building permits and anticipated state revenue sharing of state sales tax have sharply declined as people stay home and nonessential businesses remain closed in response to the Stay Home Stay Safe executive order of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Westland City Hall 
Township officials have reduced the work schedule for full-time employees to two days each week.
The employees will be furloughed from their jobs for two days each week and will be required to use one paid day off each week through May.
In Westland, officials furloughed 66-percent of city employees as a result of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has effected on city revenue. The city laid off 77 employees in an effort to contain costs.
“The lack of business being conducted at city hall and other Westland entities has led to a drastic reduction in our current revenue stream,” Mayor William R. Wild said. “This includes building permits, licenses and other over-the-counter transactions. The city's finance team is also forecasting potential decreases in state shared revenue. These factors have led me to make one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make as mayor.”
Department of Public Service staff members, clerical workers, department heads, the mayor's staff and part0time workers in Westland have all been furloughed indefinitely. The city will not hire the usual 60 employees who comprise the summer staff working in the parks, officials said. The layoffs became effective last Friday.
Both the Canton Township and City of Westland public safety departments will continue to operate at full strength, officials said, and critical infrastructure work on water and sewer services will continue in Canton. Every other township department will be affected by the furloughs and layoffs.
During the Canton Township Board of Trustees electronic meeting, Trustee Anne Marie Graham-Hudak expressed concern regarding the reported problems in filing for unemployment benefits with the State of Michigan. She urged those experiencing the problem to call their state representative in Lansing.
In Westland, Wild said he anticipates a savings of $250,000 if both the 18th District Court and the William D. Faust Public Library furlough employees, a plan currently being considered, he said in a prepared statement.
Wild stressed that the furloughs are not layoffs. He said by furloughing the employees, the city can continue to provide them with benefits such as healthcare while allowing them to collect unemployment insurance benefits. 
“The idea of a furlough also has the added expectation that workers will return to their jobs at the end of the crisis, which is my goal,” Wild said.”
Wild said the decision isn't one he came to lightly, and considers all city staff “essential.”
The city will aim to start bringing staff back to work when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Stay Home Stay Safe order ends, currently scheduled for May 15.
“It's important to note that all of the workers at the City of Westland are essential workers,” he said.
“They would much rather be at work doing their jobs and collecting their paychecks so they can pay their bills and take care of their families. These are loyal workers, some who have been with the city for decades and never expected to see a day like this. Frankly, none of us did.”
“The decision to place such a large number of employees on temporary furlough was difficult, but necessary to mitigate the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic as municipalities across the nation are projecting budget shortfalls in the upcoming years,” commented Wild.