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City won’t require employee furlough day in August

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Daily Record File Photo Roswell City Manager Joe Neeb, seen here during a meeting last year of the Roswell City Council, told councilors last week the expected city employee furlough day for August will be suspended.

The city of Roswell’s distribution of gross receipts taxes in June was higher than budgeted, allowing the city to hold off another employee furlough day, but city officials are not banking on strong GRT collections to continue.

With the June GRT coming in almost $16,000 more than budgeted, City Manager Joe Neeb said at last week’s City Council meeting the August furlough day will be suspended. The city had budgeted $2,793,986 and received $2,809,756.14.

The city was to begin furloughing employees one day a month starting in July for a total of 10 days, or one pay period, over the next year. November and December will not have furlough days.

But an early retirement and voluntary severance program the city opened in May was expanded beyond its original target of 35 employees to a final number of 43. That allowed the city to forgo the July furlough day.

The GRT distribution reflects the taxes collected from economic activity in the city two months prior, so June’s figure represents April’s activity. It was the first good look at how the state’s restrictions due to the pandemic affected the local economy, but Neeb said it’s not expected the GRT will remain at that level. In the two months prior, the GRT distribution was lower than what the city had budgeted by 9.7% in April and 4.3% in May.

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It’s likely the federal stimulus checks mailed in April, as well as the fact that big box stores remained open, contributed to the bump seen in June’s distribution, Neeb said. A large payment on the city’s water tower project that month may have also contributed, he said.

“Our fear is that this does not appear sustainable as we rely greatly on our local hotels, restaurants and small businesses to keep the Roswell economy diversified and strong,” Neeb said.

Restrictions on large gatherings and business openings have continued and even been stepped back by the governor. On Monday, a revised health order took effect, prohibiting indoor dining once again at restaurants and breweries.

“With July being the start of next fiscal year, we have planned to lower GRT numbers through much of the first six months,” Neeb said.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.