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ope赞助Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs is “considering” donating a portion of his salary after he ordered 366 employees to take unpaid furlough to offset a loss of sales tax during the coronavirus shutdown.

ope赞助After Knox News asked Jacobs' office whether he planned to also absorb a pay cut, a spokesman for the mayor said Jacobs “has to talk to the state to find out more about what he can and can’t do.” Jacobs made $180,597 in 2019.

ope赞助The county furloughs are set to begin May 8 and were originally expected to save the county an estimated $1.73 million in payroll as sales tax revenue has plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic. That number has been amended to $1.7 million as 13 fewer employees will be furloughing than expected.

Jacobs could have opted not to implement furloughs because the county has a substantial rainy day fund – spokesman Mike Donila told Knox News there is $69 million in the fund that is not assigned.

nor the state of Tennessee has announced furloughs for employees, and Knoxville released an annual budget last week that takes into account the lost sales tax revenue.

County employees – like all Tennesseans laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19 – are eligible for unemployment dollars from the state and federal government, and the county has said it will handle the unemployment filing.

The process, however is clunky. It's taken almost a month for some people to receive unemployment compensation.

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More: Why Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs plans furloughs instead of using the millions on hand

When originally asked earlier this week about whether Jacobs would take a pay cut like his furloughed employees, Donila said the county charter requires the mayor to be the highest-paid elected official and the charter says his pay cannot be reduced by the county commission once elected. This is , although it does not address whether a mayor can reduce his own pay by taking an unpaid furlough or by donating salary.

When asked if the mayor was donating his salary instead, Donila said Jacobs was “considering it.”

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Jacobs oversees 264 of the employees who will be furloughed. When Knox News asked whether department heads under Jacobs would take a pay cut while their employees are furloughed, Donila said employees cannot legally work for free and said Veteran and Senior Services Director Buzz Buswell is the only director being furloughed.

County furloughs will occur in the following offices:

Executive Branch Departments: 266

  • Libraries: 169
  • Health Department: 28
  • Engineering and Public Works: 22
  • Veterans and Senior Services: 17
  • Finance: 7
  • Information Technology: 7
  • Parks and Recreation: 7
  • Procurement: 5
  • Mayor’s Office: 2
  • Probation and Pretrial Release: 1
  • Risk Management: 1
  • Benefits: 0
  • Regional Forensic Center: 0
  • Human Resources: 0

The other 87 furloughed employees work for fee offices which are run by independently elected officials that do not answer to the mayor. Knox News has not received a reply from every official as of Tuesday afternoon about whether any of them plan to take furloughs, although Criminal Court Clerk Mike Hammond shared a ruling which gave the legal argument for why they cannot work for free. 

In response to the ruling, Knox News sent a follow up question to the fee officeholders asking whether they would donate a portion of their salary while the furloughs take place.

After the story published, Circuit Court Clerk Charles Susano III explained why told Knox News he would not be furloughing 16 employees as he originally thought.

ope赞助"While I very much wanted to cooperate with Mayor Jacobs, I do not plan to furlough any of our employees," he said in a statement. "The courts are poised to reopen shortly, and all our employees have been called back to work."

In a follow up phone call, Susano said his office gave the names of 16 employees who could be furloughed if the Tennessee Supreme Court had stopped working. "We go as the courts go," he said.

ope赞助Separately, after the story published, Trustee Ed Shouse told Knox News he would not be furloughed nor would he donate a portion of his salary. 

Those officials include:

  • County Clerk Sherry Witt
  • Criminal Court Clerk Mike Hammond
  • Trustee Ed Shouse
  • Circuit Court Clerk Charles Susano III
  • Property Assessor John Whitehead
  • Register of Deeds Nick McBride
  • Law Director Bud Armstrong
  • Chancery Court Clerk and Master Howard Hogan 

County fee offices: 87

  • Clerk: 20
  • Criminal Court Clerk: 20
  • Trustee: 19
  • Circuit Court Clerk : 0
  • Property Assessor: 13
  • Register of Deeds: 11
  • Law Director: 3
  • Chancery Court: 1
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