Anticipating that city revenues will decline due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young today ordered a freeze on new hiring and non-essential spending across city government.
Positions for new police officers, paramedics, firefighters, EMTs and sheriff’s deputies are not part of the hiring freeze. All other departments have to request an exemption and demonstrate the “critical service and performance impacts if the position remains unfilled.”
Priority for filling those jobs will be given to positions that generate revenue, and those that perform essential services.
In addition to critical supplies for the pandemic, essential spending includes anything for core city services such as fuel, vehicle repairs or EMS medical supplies, a representative for the Mayor’s Joint Information Center responding to the virus.
Examples of non-essential spending include office supplies, travel requests and new equipment that doesn’t help the city in its coronavirus response.
In a release, Young’s office said the Finance Department is expecting declines in the hotel tax, admissions tax, convention center receipts, parking-related revenues, traffic camera revenues, income tax, and other revenue sources.
Earlier this week, the city suspended ticketing vehicles for street sweeping and 48-hour parking violations.
“From a budgeting standpoint, municipalities across the state, and throughout the nation, will need to be fiscally prudent as we navigate this unprecedented emergency,” Mayor Young said in a statement. “The hiring and spending freeze represents a pair of necessary first steps to ensure that as revenues continue to decline, we remain in a position to quickly respond to the needs of our residents and first responders.”
The decisions by state and local leaders to close bars and restaurants and limit the size of public gatherings have “slowed, if not halted,” the city’s economy, Young’s office said.
On Wednesday, the mayor declared a state of emergency to secure more goods and supplies to respond to the pandemic. The city has set up more than 50 grab-and-go sites at schools, rec centers and senior centers to distribute meals to people who are food insecure.
There’s also a dedicated 311 line for residents looking for information about the distribution sites, restaurants looking to donate food or for residents who want to volunteer.
This story has been updated.
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