Cobleskill considers difficult decision of furloughs


By Patsy Nicosia

The Town of Cobleskill is looking at furloughing two or three employees in response to COVID-19.
Municipalities that go that route have the option of bringing those employees back “after this blows over,” Supervisor Leo McAllister told councilmen Monday.
As part of the CARES Act, he said, they’d be eligible for unemployment.
The CARES Act also cuts municipalities’ required unemployment insurance contribution in half, Mr. McAllister said, and the town’s overall savings could come close to matching anticipated losses in revenues from sales tax and things like court fees.
“I want this to be something we at least consider,” Mr. McAllister told councilmen.
“Do we like it? Absolutely not. But I think it would be a disservice if we don’t look at this closely.”
Currently, Mr. McAllister said, the town’s Highway Department workforce has been “reduced’ by three with three employees on one week and the other three on the next.
“Everybody’s getting paid,” he said. “If you’re home, you’re still getting paid.”
As to who would be furloughed if the town goes that route, Mr. McAllister said they could ask for volunteers or it could be based on seniority.
The CARES Act changes the formula for establishing unemployment benefits, but by Mr. McAllister’s calculations, furloughed employees could end up making more on it—though the health insurance details still need to be worked out.
Highway Superintendent Lee Johnson said he could manage with a reduced staff, again because of COVID’s expected impact.
Mr. McAllister said the savings from the furloughs could come close to marching an expected budget deficit of $30,000-$40,000.
“This is going to be very interesting in 2021 when we have to put together that budget,” he said.
“Don’t tell me we don’t have to look at every penny we can save.”

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Also Monday, Mr. McAllister told councilmen that Sagendorf Corners Road will be closed for construction this Wednesday-Friday.