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By Collin Breaux | @collin_breaux

Workers with the City of San Juan Capistrano are under a two-week furlough resulting from economic impacts of the COVID-19 health crisis, City Manager Ben Siegel said on Monday, Dec. 21. The furlough was previously agreed upon with the city’s two employee associations.

The unpaid time off is through the current holiday period closure. During the closure, the city will still have limited staff available for water and sewer operations, as well as general maintenance services, Siegel said. All city services will resume on Monday, Jan. 4, for normal business hours. Police and fire services are unaffected and will continue to operate on a round-the-clock response basis. 

“Typically, City Hall closes the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but employees are allowed to use their accumulated leave balances to cover any days that are not recognized holidays,” Siegel said.

At the onset of the pandemic, city finance staff analyzed and discussed with councilmembers expected fiscal impacts and mitigation strategies. As part of the effort, the city’s employee associations stepped up and agreed to a 54-hour work furlough in the current 2020-21 fiscal year, meaning they would take the equivalent of six days off without pay, Siegel said.

“Management and the employee associations worked collaboratively to identify a closure period that would have minimal impact to City services, and agreed to the current holiday period closure, which coincides with the school break and, in typical years, holiday travel schedules,” Siegel said.

Most services will continue being provided virtually to protect the health of employees and the public.

San Juan has dealt with numerous effects from the coronavirus outbreak throughout 2020, including the public closure of city hall in November after several city employees had tested positive, and the temporary delay of some key projects earlier in the year, including Putuidem Village and the proposed skateboard park. Councilmembers later authorized those projects to resume after financial conditions became more clear.

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com.

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