Annise Parker: Merry Christmas, Employees!! Take An Unpaid Furlough Day!!

Mayor Annise Parker, in conjunction with a municipal union, is asking City of Houston employees to take voluntary furlough days before the end of the year to ease the city's budget crunch.

"While the City has been able to withstand the current economic crisis longer than most, we are now faced with budget challenges that force us to make tough fiscal choices," Parker said. "I sincerely appreciate HOPE's willingness to offer suggestions that will help the City as it works to find fiscally-responsible solutions for dealing with our ongoing budget situation."

HOPE is the Houston Organization for Public Employees, whose president endorsed the plan.

"While City of Houston employees are not to blame, HOPE is proud to be part of the solution to help close the City's budget gap," said Melvin Hughes, a maintenance mechanic for the city. "As a member of the City's workforce, I'm doing my part by taking a voluntary furlough day."

Parker urged employees to take their unpaid day off between December 11 and Christmas Eve, when payroll deductions are at their lowest.

She said she hoped enough furloughs would be taken to alleviate the need for involuntary furloughs in 2011.

There are no solid figures yet for the budget shortfall Houston is facing, or for how much it may save through the voluntary furloughs.

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