The City of Opelousas will furlough employees because of the economic problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The council approved the furloughs in a meeting on Friday morning. It passed unanimously and 30 city employees will be affected.
Over the last five weeks, Mayor Julius Alsandor and his team have been looking at how to close a $136,000 shortfall. That gap is coming primarily from unpaid water and sewage fees.
Alsandor said, "We have to be forward thinking and looking at possible options to address the loss in revenues in utilities, but also the loss of sales tax dollars."
The Mayor said the greatest asset but also the biggest expense for the city is its employees. The city looked at cutting hours and layoffs, but decided furloughs is the best option right now.
"They're still connected to the city, but more importantly, the insurance and the coverage of having health insurance is so vitally important these days," said Alsandor.
He knows times are tough, but he is encouraging those who can to do their part by taking care of their bills. Alsandor hopes this will lessen the burden on the city and the employees who are now temporarily out of work.
"All I'm asking is that the city of Opelousas and the customers we serve to take care of your end on your side. I have to believe we're all going to be okay. It may take us longer than we want, but we have to continue to move forward," said Alsandor.
It's unclear at this time which departments will be affected. We do know the Opelousas Police and Fire Departments as well as the Marshal's Office will be spared from the furloughs.
Right now, there's no timetable on how long this furlough will last. The Mayor says even more employees could be effected depending on how long this continues.
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