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City of Rochester to implement furloughs, layoffs and job-share to deal with COVID-19 impact

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren is announcing a combination of furloughs, work sharing and layoffs, in order to deal with the economic impact of COVID-19. In total, 403 employees will be affected.

On Tuesday, Warren announced staffing reductions in order to protect essential services, including the police and fire departments. The mayor also said that there will be no impact on refuse and recycling collection, road and bridge maintenance or water service.

Warren said that staffing changes will save more than $2.1 million over the current and next fiscal years.

“We face a public health crisis that has also become a fiscal crisis for Rochester and our fellow cities across the country,” said Warren. “We are acting now to protect essential services, including our police and fire departments, because we must do all we can today to ensure we overcome the uncertainty of the coming weeks and months. The loss of revenue from our sales tax, as well as state aid will be significant, but remains unknown. We are hopeful that our federal and state governments will step up to help Rochester and other cities. But, we cannot wait. We must protect our community and its taxpayers now.”

Notices were given to employees Tuesday. Beginning May 11, 178 employees will be furloughed, 208 will work share, and 17 positions will be eliminated for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. All furloughed and work sharing employees will retain their healthcare benefits for the duration of their changed status.  Separated employees will receive nine months of healthcare benefits after their last date of employment.

Warren said that in addition, many furloughed or job sharing employees will benefit financially from the increased unemployment benefits provided by the federal CARES act.

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“These are not decisions I make lightly; I value our City employees and the work they do,” said Warren. “However, we must act now to lessen the impact of this crisis on our community later. It is my sincere hope that our federal and state leaders act to provide the needed resources to our local governments so we can continue to provide vital services.”

City officials anticipate that all work-share and furloughed employees will return to full-time employment after July 29, when the enhanced benefits to workers expire under the Federal CARES act.

Warren will propose her full budget, including these reductions, to City Council on Friday, May 15.

City of Rochester Personnel Reductions to Begin Effective Monday, May 11

Credit City of Rochester

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.