Wilkes-Barre Employee Furloughs Could Become Permanent

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WILKES-BARRE -- Friday was the last day for employees of the city of Wilkes-Barre to sign up for volunteer furloughs.

The mayor asked workers to take up to six weeks off because of a $1.5 million budget shortfall.

The mayor said not enough people signed up for those furloughs. He said only a handful of employees volunteered which means the mayor must now make what he calls difficult decisions.

The city of Wilkes-Barre faces a major financial crisis as it heads into the final weeks of 2012.

"There is too much money missing. One, from the economy and two, from problems collecting the earned income tax that affected us the first two quarters of the year and ultimately it will effect us at the end of the year," said Mayor Tom Leighton.

They mayor said he will have to force people to stop working, including police, fire, EMS, and city sanitary employees. The mayor said he will meet with the union leaders to decide who will be laid off and for how long. Leighton also said the furloughs could carry over into next year and become permanent.

"Since October 15 we have been working on trying to reduce the millage increase, and with reducing that, it will come again more difficult decisions that I will have to make. Again I`m looking out for the tax payers and residents of the city and I will do what`s right for them," added Leighton.

The mayor said he should know who will be selected by the end of next week.