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Banks opts to furlough staff




Letcher County Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison Banks said he has no choice left but to begin 2009 with his staff on furlough.

Banks has scheduled the first furlough, unpaid leave of absence, for January 5 through January 7. Gov. Steve Beshear recently called for a three-day furlough for all state employees and Banks decided to go ahead and get that one out of the way as soon as possible.

Beshear also proposed offsetting Kentucky’s $456.1 million budget shortfall by cutting spending in most government agencies by 4 percent; boosting the state’s cigarette tax by 70 cents a pack and doubling the tax on other tobacco products.

Banks had until December 19 to submit a plan for how his office is going to handle the budget cut. Banks had hoped the Letcher County Fiscal Court could offer some financial assistance, but he was turned down at last week’s court meeting. Banks doesn’t think forfeiture money can solve all of its money problems.

Banks said he had no choice but to resort to three one-week furloughs.

“I put them off as far as I could hoping the legislature would come up with money and we wouldn’t have to do this,” said Banks.

The weeklong furloughs are scheduled for the weeks of March 16, April 6 and May 25. Banks said his office had already planned on taking off May 25 for Memorial Day but now his employees will not get paid for that day.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney has a part-time assistant, a fulltime secretary, a part-time secretary and a full-time victims’ advocate. During the furloughs Banks will still be working. He said he will try to answer phone calls, open mail and attend court as best as he can.

“I have no doubt that the public will suffer and cases will pile up,” said Banks.


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