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Lincoln County employees to take days off without pay

Counties across the state are laying-off workers, freezing hiring and curtailing travel to deal with budget shortages. Lincoln County, west of Charlotte, has become the first in the state to go a step further - forcing workers to take time off without pay. Lincoln County employees must take five unpaid days off this spring. Without the furlough, County Manager George Wood says big layoffs would be necessary to cover a revenue shortfall of more than $2 million. It's an unusual move according to Todd McGee, a spokesman for the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. "Thinking back to 2001, 2002, when we had a similar situation come up before. . . I just can't recall anybody doing furloughs to get through this kind of a crisis. So that tells you either that it's much worse this time, or that maybe it's particularly bad in Lincoln County," says McGee. In fact, budgets are tight across the state, with sales and property tax revenues coming in lower than expected. Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones has asked his department heads to cut 20 percent from their budgets for next year. UNC is considering furloughs to deal with its budget woes. And many South Carolina state and local government offices have already implemented forced days off without pay.