The D.C. Council will vote on Tuesday whether to repay more than 20,0000 District employees a combined $22 million to compensate them for the four furlough days they were forced to take last year to help the city balance its budget.
The vote, a priority for Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) and Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), will be the third time in about a month that the council attempted to address the issue.
Last year, Gray forced non-essential employees to stay home without pay on Presidents Day, Emancipation Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. At the time, the District was facing a projected $188 million budget shortfall. But revised revenue projections from late last year and this year showed the city actually had a surplus of as much as $240 million.
Gray and several council members then opted to push to use some of the surplus funds to repay the employees. But several prior attempts broke down amid bickering over spending priorities and the precedent that would be set by the repayments.
Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At large), for example, helped derail the proposal earlier this month because he said employees should only be paid for two of the four furlough days. Michael Brown wanted the remainder of the money to go toward affordable housing and other social programs.
Council member David A. Catania (I-At large) also opposed repayment, noting elected officials had no plans to reimburse taxpayers for recent tax and fee increases.
Now, however, most council members appear satisfied with the direction of city priorities under the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget that the body will finalize on Tuesday. Because there is still money left over in the 2012 spending plan, Gray and the chairman have worked out an agreement to bring the matter back up for a vote.
“I expect it will pass,” Kwame Brown said.