Montrose city freezes pay, hiring, orders furloughs

To defend itself against a brutish economy and continue serving residents, the city of Montrose is cutting back. The most dramatic decision was to close two days this summer and institute a hiring freeze.

Montrose relies on sales and use taxes for 80 percent of its revenue.

First-quarter revenue decreased $367,000, or 11 percent, from the first quarter of 2008, said Shani Wittenberg, finance director for the city.

With the start of the recession in late 2008, city leaders saw the writing on the wall and began budget discussions, which led to cuts.

“We have had three different modifications to our budget since January,” Wittenberg said.

“We did a hiring freeze. We also froze salaries. And we have taken out all but the mandatory training in our general fund budget.”

The city also will require most of its employees to take a couple days off: May 22 and July 6.

Police officers will forfeit 16 hours of accrued holiday pay in lieu of furlough days. Sanitation workers will schedule alternate furlough days to avoid disrupting sanitation services, the city said.

Montrose County issued a news release that attempted to put a good light on its situation, saying, “Montrose County is now seeing the positive results from prudent fiscal policies.”

Finance reviews have increased from once to twice a month. The county’s planning and development department staff is being trained to take on “clerical work from other departments,” according to the release.

The news release said the county cut back revenue projections by 10 percent this year compared to last year and anticipates saving $800,000 this year by doing less hiring.


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