The Riverside County Board of Supervisors ratified a decision from County Executive Bill Luna to close county offices and non-emergency services, as well as imposing mandatory furlough days on county managers, administrators and officials.

Public Information Officer of Riverside County, Raymond Smith, said managers and unrepresented employees work 80 hours over a nine-day period; getting every other Friday off.

Beginning August 14, these employees will be furloughed on the other Friday during each pay period, resulting in 20 additional furlough days during the current fiscal year.

Smith said, “The Board has consistently worked to meet budget targets, maintain county services at the highest level possible and avoid layoffs that would increase our unemployment rate and likely add to the foreclosure crisis.”

Smith claimed that 1,500 employees will be affected by these furlough days and other compensation-based cuts.

The furlough days and Friday closures will cut labor costs and utility expenses.

Smith said, “We made cuts last year, this year and all our projections tell us cuts along the magnitude of what we are seeing today will be required next year. Because of the economy, we anticipate losing $130 million in sales and property taxes in the current fiscal year.”

Supervisor Jeff Stone’s Chief of Staff, Verne Lauritzen said, “We are anticipating being in a bad spot for two, maybe three more years.

“These are bleak circumstances. Next year will be ugly.”

Smith said, “The furloughs and other compensation-based cuts are geared toward an approximate pay reduction of 10 percent.”

Smith said, “We’re hoping to share the pain and responsibility for maintaining services and reducing costs, and these furloughs are key to those goals.”

“Mandatory furloughs were necessary evil” said Denys Arcuri, Communications Director and spokesman for Supervisor Roy Wilson.

“What we need is more employment even if it means less pay,” said Arcuri. “Laying off county employees is a bad idea because of unemployment rates.”

Lauritzen said, “This is an eight- or nine-month program that will be reevaluated after June 30” Lauritzen said.

June 30 marked the end of the fiscal year.

According to Arcuri, “Next June we are going to be facing as tough, or tougher, a situation than this time around. Supervisor Wilson is joined by the board by wanting to protect jobs at all cost.”

Lauritzen boldly stated, “We have to reshape government. It’s a new world. We have to try to get everyone to understand together or this is not going to work.”

The Board of Supervisors has also been in negotiation with unions whose contracts are up for negotiation.

“Either unions come to the table and accept pay cuts or eventually people will start getting laid off,” Arcuri said.

Louis Dettorre can be reached at