Elkhart city workers may not have to take furloughs in 2013

The Elkhart City Council Monday night will consider a proposal by the mayor to use leftover funds from the 2012 budget to pay city employees, so they will not have to take furlough days in 2013.

Last year city employees were told they would have to take five furlough days in 2013, and police and fire personnel would have to take three.

Some city council members, however, are concerned that using the money in this way would not be legal, because it would violate a city ordinance that says funds not spent in one budget year must be transferred into a Rainy Day Fund.

"Several council people have asked the state department of legal finance to give us an opinion whether those monies, property tax driven, need to go into [the] Rainy Day Fund," said Brian Thomas, Elkhart City Councilman, 2nd District.

Mayor Dick Moore said he would not comment on the Rainy Day Fund, but did say he thought the Rainy Day Fund had nothing to do with potential furloughs in 2013.

"When we closed the books at the end of January, we could see what the departments had not spent collectively, and it totaled over 2 million dollars, as a matter of fact, and then we could tell our employees, 'You don't have to worry. We're not going to take away any of your payroll. You will work the hours that you were regularly scheduled to work'," said Moore.

Thomas said that even if it is determined that the leftover money from 2012 must go into the Rainy Day Fund, it would just take an extra step to transfer the money out again to be used to prevent furloughs for city employees.

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