By Lyndsie Kiebert
The Board of Bonner County Commissioners unanimously approved a furlough policy May 12 to be utilized in the event that the COVID-19 pandemic cuts into the county’s funding.
Director of Human Resources Cindy Binkerd presented the new policy for commissioners’ approval at the board’s regular Tuesday business meeting, stating that it was being created “in advance” of any potential furloughs, due to “low work volumes as well as a projected decrease in revenue.”
According to the approved policy, a possible furlough would affect all Bonner County positions if necessary, with employees given “as much notice as feasible under the circumstances of their selection for temporary furlough status.”
“We didn’t have a policy to handle this, so we wanted to make sure we picked that up,” said Commissioner and Board Chairman Dan McDonald.
McDonald elaborated later in an email to the Reader, saying that as of right now, there isn’t concrete cause to believe that Bonner County will suffer any major funding deficits due to widespread mandated business closures and a shelter-in-place order amid the COVID-19 emergency, which as it stretches into its second month in Idaho is being met with the phased reopening of the economy based on Gov. Brad Little’s “Idaho Rebounds” plan.
“We won’t really know if there will be revenue issues with respect to property tax receipts until we get beyond June,” McDonald said. “We are expecting our sales tax receipts we get from the state to be down, however, we have always budgeted well under what the actual is to begin with.”
He said the new furlough policy is a back-up measure should the county need a solution for an unplanned-for decrease in revenue.
“With the spending and budget cuts we’ve done over the past three years, there isn’t a great deal of wiggle room in the budget short of looking at furlough or reducing service, should the unlikely happen and we see a drastic reduction in revenue,” McDonald said. “At this point, I am cautiously optimistic.”
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