RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Transportation announced that furloughs for employees will begin Monday due to the budget shortfalls made worse by a sharp drop in revenue during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Numerous actions have been implemented at the programmatic and personnel level to restore financial stability to the department, said NCDOT Secretary Eric Boyette in an email to staff. “However, the current pandemic situation continues to impact our business significantly, and as a result, difficult programmatic and personnel decisions must occur.”
Boyette took over as secretary at the beginning of March this year after Gov. Roy Cooper announced in February that his appointee, James Trogdon, was resigning.
In an email to all staff late Monday afternoon, Boyette outlined a multi-phase plan for incremental furloughs that will start “at the top of the organization.”
Executive and senior leadership furloughs began last Saturday, May 16, and will run through June 26. The number of furlough hours starts at 30 for executive leadership and drops five hours to 25 for senior leadership.
All other NCDOT employees are required to take 20 hours of furlough time starting May 30 through June 26.
The plan, which was also sent in a letter to lawmakers, details the furloughs will happen in eight-hours blocks each week and will be spread out over several weeks. Employees will take more than eight hours of furlough time in a single week in order to have enough hours (32) to maintain health coverage and benefits.
The furloughs add to bad news for the NCDOT, after a state audit of its finances showed the department exceeded its projected cash spending plan for state fiscal year 2019 by $742 million.
Last month, the NCDOT acknowledged a budget shortfall which in turn forced spending on future construction contracts to be slashed by $2 billion. NCDOT had stated that their latest estimate is for a budget shortfall of at least $300 million for the remainder of the current fiscal year.
NCDOT also had budget issues last October after it was determined that the department had overspent its budget by $2 billion. As a result of the overspending, the department came close to running afoul of the state law requiring them to maintain a cash balance between $282 million and $1 billion.