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With Recession Looming, Chesterfield Furloughs Hundreds

Chesterfield Administration
Over 500 part time and full time employees will be furloughed at the end of this week. (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News)

More than 500 part-time and full-time employees of Chesterfield County were given notices last week that they would be furloughed for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A furlough temporarily places an employee on leave without pay until economic conditions improve.

County Administrator Joe Casey said that there is an economic crisis coming. The county is anticipating a recession and projecting a drop in tax revenues going into the next year.  

Casey said that over 2000 county residents filed for unemployment last week--and that he anticipates that same number this week. Normally, he says, that number is around 85 claims per week. 

“We're no different than a business that has customers. Our customers are taxes, our taxes are relevant to the economy, to the local economy, especially,” said Casey. 

He said that he sees the recession lasting through the next fiscal year. And he noted that the new budget takes effect on July 1st of this year. 

“What we have tried to do is design our next year's budget and we're coming out with that in the next week or so, with this new reality upon us today, to best retain and preserve our full time workforce,” Casey said. 

Casey said many of the employees are part time seasonal workers, and some full time employees who are about to retire. He added that the employees impacted mostly work in county services that are currently closed, such as libraries and seasonal workers for Parks and Recreation. 

“We're such a large workforce, we have people coming and going all the time. Now, during the onset of this economic issue. We have people more going than coming. So we're not necessarily replacing vacancies,” Casey said.

The employees were notified last week of their eligibility for unemployment benefits, and further access to healthcare and dental coverage from the county.

"Any part-time benefits eligible employee (24-30 hours per week) or full-time employees who had county health care coverage would continue their coverage for up to six months. Those employees would not be required to pay their portion of their health care premiums while in a furlough status," said Director of Human Resources Mary Martin Selby.

Casey said he hopes to bring those furloughed back.

“We hope that once the virus is over--and again it’s hope--that there’s a pent up demand that can be fueled, and if so, then we bring those people back,” Casey said.


Ian M. Stewart previously was the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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