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Great Barrington furloughs 14 town employees

GREAT BARRINGTON — Fourteen town employees have been furloughed until Monday, May 18.
The furlough includes nine part-time and three full-time employees from the town’s public libraries as well as two full-time employees from the town’s Department of Public Works, according to Great Barrington Town Manager Mark Pruhenski.
There are also positions for laborers at the town’s Department of Public Works that will remain unfilled for now, he added.
Following meetings with labor unions that represented town workers as part of collective bargaining agreements, letters were sent out to town employees on Friday, April 24 and were intended to last for at least one week’s time.
Employees were also notified that they could apply their benefited time off during the furlough if they had it.
On Tuesday, April 28, that timeline was extended to Monday, May 18, after Gov. Charlie Baker extended his executive order to limit gatherings to 10 people or less and the closure of non-essential businesses. The stay-at-home advisory also remains in effect.
In deciding which employees could potentially be furloughed, Pruhenski said that Mason and Ramsdell libraries were looked at first as the doors to both buildings were already closed. At this point, there are still several full-time library employees maintaining an online presence, he said.
“This is meant to be a very temporary move … I don’t expect it will impact service,” said Pruhenski. “To ignore the economic climate we’re facing right now would be irresponsible. We are watching revenues closely and may be forced to make some difficult decisions very soon.”
The town estimates saving approximately $16,000 from the furlough from April 27 through May 15. Should that period extend until June 30, Pruhenski said the town could save $50,000.
Though the town manager noted he was not as concerned with the town’s current finances as Great Barrington’s revenues for the fiscal year are strong, the concern builds for outlying years, he said.
“This measure is all about cash preservation,” he said. “We fully anticipate bringing everyone back as soon as we’re given the greenlight to open our doors.”

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