Modesto Council to take up police furloughs tonight

Modesto police employees who have the most contact with the law-abiding public have agreed to take 96 hours in furloughs this budget year.

The City Council will consider the furlough plan at its meeting today.

The 77-member union representing the Police Department's nonsworn personnel approved the furloughs last week as part of contract negotiations.

Nonsworn personnel are the department's support staff. They include records clerks, evidence technicians and crime analysts. Many interact with the public. Community service officers, for example, take crime reports and coordinate programs such as Neighborhood Watch.

The furlough time amounts to 12 workdays, or a 4.6 percent pay cut, for most employees. If the council approves the agreement, employees will see four hours of furlough time deducted from each paycheck until June. Employees will accrue the hours, then spend them as they would vacation time.

Furlough requests will be scheduled in advance like vacation. The department will deny furlough requests that force it to drop below minimum staffing levels, said community service officer Art Miller, president of the Modesto Police Non-Sworn Association.

Acting Police Chief Mike Harden said the public probably won't notice a drop in service because the same group of employees has been taking furloughs since March.

"I don't think there'll be a huge noticeable, discernible impact," he said.

The nonsworn employees' furloughs and other concessions will save the city $188,747 during this budget year, which started July 1. Of that, about $185,640 represents savings from the city's general fund, which faced a $4.8 million shortfall.

The nonsworn employees union is the last of the city's bargaining units to accept a furlough package, said Mark Gregersen, interim director of human resources.

All of the other unions agreed to take 96 hours in furloughs except the police management association, said Greger-sen. That group agreed to 24 furlough hours for sergeants and lieutenants, as well as other concessions that saved the city $241,327.

The City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chambers at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at or 578-2378.