Mayor Mary Lou Pauly presented a budget plan at the City Council’s April 20 meeting that reduces expenditures, and provides the City flexibility during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to significant dips forecasted in sales tax, business & occupation tax and utility taxes, the City estimates close to $10 million in reduced revenues to the general fund in 2020. Other funds will also see reductions.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis in our community, with dramatic effect on our residents, businesses and social service providers,” said Mayor Mary Lou Pauly. “These impacts are of a magnitude not seen by many in our lifetimes. We have had to shut our communities down and weather the storm. And we share the sadness for the toll that this disease has taken on members of our community, and their families.”
To ensure flexibility in its response to the pandemic, the City is taking a phased approach to budget cuts.
“We need to reduce our services to match our expected revenue levels, and that means taking a hard look at the community and City Council priorities – and only delivering those very basic priority services,” Pauly said.
The first phase of budget reductions includes close to $5 million in savings by:
- Vacating 22 positions through layoffs and retirements.
- Freezing 15 vacant positions (in addition to the seven positions already frozen in the adopted 2020 budget).
- Reclassifying two positions.
- Implementing a proposed 10-day furlough for all non-represented positions.
- Reducing salaries of the City’s Senior Leadership Team by a proposed 7 percent.
- Reducing certain benefits for non-represented staff.
The plan also includes several service changes, including:
- Once reopened, only offering base services at the Community Center, Julius Boehm Pool, Senior Center and Pickering Barn, which translates to fewer recreational programs and reduced service hours.
- Closing Tibbetts Creek Manor.
- Deferring the replacement of fitness equipment at the Community Center.
- Eliminating a program for expedited permit review.
- Reducing support for the neighborhood engagement program.
- Eliminating staff dedicated to processing passports.
- Reducing staff for video production that covers council, board and commission meetings, as well as community promotions.
The City’s revised workplan for 2020 also includes several changes, including deferring work on Title 18 (except for the sign code update); canceling work on Housing Strategy 3; and reducing sustainability education, outreach and programming. The City also plans to explore options to reduce contract costs with Eastside Fire & Rescue.
Future phases of budget reductions may include:
- Additional salary and benefit savings following union negotiations.
- Reductions to other City funds.
- Enhanced cost recovery from interlocal agreements, development services, the jail and municipal court.
“A pandemic creates an ever-changing set of constraints and issues, and requires us to be flexible and nimble in order to respond in a responsible way,” Pauly said. “As we continue our response to this crisis, I am confident our dedicated City Council, employees and community will demonstrate, once again, Issaquah’s historic resilience and strength.”
Learn more about the City’s proposed phased approach to budget reductions online and via YouTube.