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East Bay cities consider furloughs, layoffs amid crisis

Bay Area

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KRON) – As counties move toward reopening certain parts of the economy, the move could mean a small sigh of relief for East Bay cities. 

Mayors across the East Bay say they’re having to put furloughs in place and implement pay decreases to try and save their budgets. 

For some of them, the predictions for the 2020-2021 fiscal year are in the tens of millions of dollars. 

City leaders in Walnut Creek, Concord and Richmond who are all coming to terms with major impacts this pandemic has on the economy.

“We have a big job ahead of us — we have to find a way to widdle that 27 million down to zero,” Mayor of Richmond Tom Butt said.

​Butt says the city had a balanced budget ahead of the coronavirus pandemic but when the shelter in place order hit that reality quickly shifted. ​

​”Our staff predicted a $7 million decrease in revenues for the fourth quarter in this fiscal year, we’re now projecting a $27 million budget deficit for 2020-21​,” Butt said.  

​It’s a similar situation over in Concord where Mayor Tim McGallian is predicting upwards of a $20 million hit.​

​”This directly impacts police, public works, planning department, you name it, this will have significant impacts for people’s lives​,” McGallian said. 

​Over in Walnut Creek, the Chamber of Commerce says the city’s annual intake of retail sales tax will undoubtedly be lower this fiscal year​.

​”The city would ordinarily get 20 million in retail sales tax, in addition over a million in occupancy tax in hotels etc. Those two spigots have essentially shut off,” Jay Hoyer said.  

​So far in Concord, city council and administrators have taken a 10% pay decrease which has shaved about $5 million off the budget.

In Richmond, they’re looking at a list of about 60 different ways to whittle down their projected deficit​.

​“It’s possible we could recover 8 or 9 million by introducing a hiring freeze. El Cerrito put in a furlough where people aren’t gonna work on Friday’s, so we’re looking at hiring freezes looking at furloughs, diminishing programs and services but no decisions yet. We have a big job ahead of us​,” said Butt. 

​“Every city is going to be dealing with it differently, but this exposes the fact that a lot of cities were already struggling with budgets, and this unfortunately made it even worse,” said McGallian.

Mayor Butt says he wants subscribers to his newsletter that he sends out to reach back out to him and detail which city services they might be able to do without for the next year. 

This way they can make better choices on what to cut moving forward.

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