A couple more Quincy aldermen are stepping forward with donations as a way to participate in the city’s furlough program. Meanwhile, several others say they don’t plan to participate or haven’t decided if they will.
In an interview this week, Alderman Mike Farha, R-4, said he has directed Comptroller Ann Scott to deduct $10 from each of his next six aldermanic paychecks as his share of the furlough burden.
“I was going to give it to a charity, but I thought that didn’t make any sense,” Farha said. “How can you come up with a furlough program to help defray the city’s costs and then give it to a charity? That doesn’t seem to make sense. So I just told her to go ahead and take $10 for the next six pay periods.”
Alderman Ben Bumbry, D-1, told The Herald-Whig he plans to make a donation this week. “I’ll do my part, too,” he said.
The furlough program was initiated as part of an effort to help the city reduce expenses in the face of a $1.8 million revenue shortfall. All employees were required to take three furlough days without pay by the end of the 2009 calendar year — or provide an equivalent monetary concession.
When the program was initially revealed at the Sept. 28 City Council meeting, Alderman Raymond “Skip” Vahlkamp, D-6, said the furloughs should “start at the top” and involve the mayor and other elected officials, including the city’s 14 aldermen.
Vahlkamp was the first to come forward. He donated the equivalent of three days pay based on his aldermanic salary and expense pay, minus taxes and other routine deductions.
By the end of the calendar year, the only other alderman to come forward was Dave Bauer, D-2, who also donated the equivalent of three days pay — as did the city’s top three elected officials: Mayor John Spring, City Clerk Jenny Hayden and City Treasurer Peggy Crim.
In previous stories, The Herald-Whig reported that Aldermen Dan Brink, R-6, and Mike Rein, R-5, said they didn’t plan to participate in the program, while Aldermen Steve Duesterhaus, D-2, and Kyle Moore, R-3, said they planned to make donations to local charities rather than to the city.
Moore this week provided documentation showing he made a $230 donation to Quanada’s food pantry.
“The amount does not symbolize a certain amount of days I work on behalf of the citizens of the 3rd Ward, but instead is for the total amount of increased taxes that 10 families in the 3rd Ward will see on their bill next year thanks to the City Council’s vote on 12/28/09,” Moore said in a press release, referring to the council’s split decision to pass a tax levy that will bump up local property taxes.
“There can be no doubt that when next year’s tax bill comes due, there will be families who have to choose between paying their tax bill and going to the grocery store,” Moore wrote.
In interviews this week, Aldermen Jack Holtschlag, D-7, and Richard Reis, D-7, said they don’t plan to participate in the furlough program. Reis said he already serves on seven aldermanic committees and does plenty of volunteer work in the community. “What is my $50 going to save the city?” he said.
Alderman Paul Havermale, R-3, said he is “kind of hesitant” about participating in the furlough program. “I haven’t given it much thought,” he said. “As of now I don’t plan to participate. That could change, I suppose.”
Aldermen Virgil Goehl, D-1, and Tony Sassen, R-4, said they haven’t decided if they will participate. “I’m thinking about it,” Goehl said. “I haven’t made up my mind yet,” Sassen said.
Alderman Jennifer Lepper, R-5, had a unique take on the furlough proposal. She thinks the city shouldn’t have instituted furloughs at all and instead should have adopted her suggestion to freeze salary increases for all employees. “I think in the very beginning if we had initiated that, that would have been a good solution,” she said.
Lepper said she hasn’t made any donation “at this time” for the furlough program. She said she would be more eager to participate if a “true furlough” program was conducted for aldermen. Instead of asking aldermen to donate back a part of their pay voluntarily, she would have liked to see the City Council actually call off some of its weekly meetings and everybody stay home and not get paid as a result.
“If they set it up right, I’d be all for it,” she said.