Employees at the county Circuit Court were told yesterday they will be furloughed for up to five days in connection with the state budgetcrisis.

Under an order from Robert C. Murphy, chief judge of the state Court of Appeals, employees were told they could select the days on which to be furloughed, as long as they are before June 30.

Mary M. Rose, clerk of the county Circuit Court, said most of her90 employees earn less than $20,000 a year and will therefore be furloughed for only one day. The number of furlough days is tied to salary; employees earning more than $50,000 will be furloughed five days.

Rose said her $57,000 salary is mandated by the legislature, but she is considering giving five days' pay to the state's general fund or to charity.

She said the furlough days, which are staggered among employees, will not significantly disrupt operations at the courthouse. But she said the move may affect morale.

"I think they're pretty down about it," she said. "I think morale is down for all state employees."

Rose said her staff is being furloughed just as the state's Administrative Office of the Courts adds "another layer of bureaucracy" by hiring additional auditors. "The staff finds that demoralizing," she said.

Courthouse employees yesterday were philosophical about the furloughs. Pam Snowden, a clerk in the law department whohas worked at the courthouse for five years, said she will be furloughed one day.

"It's better than being laid off. I'd rather have a job than no job at all," she said, adding that her attitude was typical among the employees.

Of the plan to stagger the furlough days, law department clerk Mardy Tyler said: "It's good for the public, it's bad for the employee. We'll just have to take up the slack for people who aren't working. It would have made more sense to close the courthouse and save electricity."

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