(WWJ) The City of Livonia has implemented a plan to protect its finances amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press release, The Office of Mayor Maureen Miller Brosnan announced they will partially or fully furlough about 37% of the city's workers as part of the Workforce Protection Program.
The furloughs, impacting 234 employees, are expected to save Livonia about $160,000 per week; according to the release.
“A great deal of thought has gone into, not only whether this was truly necessary, but how to put together a plan that would help us come back strong after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Brosnan said in the release.
She added “these are furloughs, not layoffs.”
“A furlough is an opportunity to bring everybody back,” Brosnan said, speaking live on WWJ.
Brosnan told WWJ all furloughed employees are continuing to receive health, dental and life insurance benefits. She also said she would keep in touch with them during their absence.
City officials hope The Workforce Protection Program will pave the way for Livonia to manage costs as the pandemic is expected to take a toll on revenue from a variety of sources including: a reduction in funding from state sales tax and gasoline tax, and a drop-off in real estate sales.
It will also allow staff to come back in waves.
The press release states Livonia's “critical services” are still in operation. This includes police officers and firefighters.
“We’ve been able to maintain the most critical city services with a remote work force and that caused us all to have to embrace technology…” Brosnan said, “We just got a chance to prove to a workforce of 635 that we can do that, and we can...be better for it.”
Brosnan said she doesn’t want it this way forever.
“I enjoy shaking hands. I love hugging people. I can’t do that anymore. That leaves you with a sense of emptiness. But I think the efforts that people are going through to make each other feel loved and appreciated, that fills you back up again.”
Livonia has been particularly hard hit by coronavirus because of their large senior population, according to the Mayor. She said the city of about 94,000 people are second behind Detroit for number of deaths from COVID-19. You can listen to the complete interview with Mayor Brosnan here.