Furloughs continue to beleaguer Titusville

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TITUSVILLE, Fla. - Negotiations came to a head Tuesday for the last of Titusville's furloughed city workers.

The city had already reached agreements with police and firefighters. The rest of the city's workers have had lighter paychecks since November.

The City Council voted on an agreement for those employees Tuesday in a special meeting.

The City Council voted for recommendations that will save the city money, but also mean a reduction in benefits for some of its employees.
It's been weeks since either Titusville's firefighters or police officers had an unpaid day off from work.

But, the same can't be said of the employees who work in the city's department of public works and water resources. They've been furloughed two days out of the month since mid-November.

"The workers aren't getting paid for this and that's not right. They didn't ask them if they could do it and that's not right," resident Tona Housman said.

Laborers International Union representative Rocky Little said it's also proved to be a hardship among the 121 Titusville city employees represented by his union

"It's been very hard. I've had members calling. They haven't been able to pay their regular bills," Little said.

The city and the union have been at odds over wages, pension and insurance benefits.

The union was seeking a pay raise for members who haven't seen an increase since 2008.

In the meantime, the city staff was looking for concessions in a climate of declining property tax revenue and increasing pension and insurance costs.

"With the space center work and the way we all are apparently, it's a necessity in some cases," resident Douglas Watkins said.

Late Tuesday afternoon, City Council decided to approve a plan that will change how the unions'  pensions are calculated, increase the retirement age and remove overtime from the formula for retirement income.

"If our group votes it down, it's going to be imposed on us," Little said.