Walker County employees to get five unpaid holiday work days - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Walker County employees to get five unpaid holiday work days

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Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell says the county needs to save roughly $250,000. To do that she plans to furlough the county's nearly 400 employees.

"I take full responsibility for the fact that we don't have enough money," says Heiskell.

She's been scraping the barrel, trying to find money to offset the county's falling revenue.

"Well it's my fault because I haven't raised taxes. I've raised taxes less than a half a millage in 12 years," says Heiskell.

"I'm listening to the people who don't want to pay taxes," Heiskell says.

She says the cost to operate Walker County Government is the lowest in the state. However, only 13 percent of the county's property tax goes to local government, the rest goes to the school system. The value of the county's property is down $81 million in the last three years.

"That means a millage won't bring in as much as it used to," says Heiskell.

To help offset the costs, elected officials have agreed to closing county government for five days out of the year, which would equal 40 hours of furlough per employee. Heiskell describes it as five unpaid holiday days.

"But the people who work on the roads that have to be here and for emergencies and that sort of thing, we're still going to do the four hours a pay period," Heiskell explains.

"I worry for my employees on their salaries because it will cut their income and that hurts," Tax Commissioner Carolyn Walker says.

While she doesn't advocate a tax increase Walker says it may be one solution that needs to be considered.

"As the tax collector, the higher the millage rate, the more it brings in, but it makes a bigger hardship on the citizens too," says Walker.

For now county employees will have to carry the bourdon as departments look for new and better ways to save money.

"If we all try to look for efficiency in our offices, I certainly have been doing that," Walker says.

The five unpaid holiday work days will take affect next month.

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