RICHMOND (CBS SF) — The coronavirus pandemic has hit the city of Richmond with a $27 million deficit for the next fiscal year.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said.
There are 59 potential budget items on the table, including city furloughs, hiring freezes, and closing or reducing hours at the city’s libraries. Butt says public safety is the top priority for residents. There has been only one homicide in the city this year.
“Of all of our staff, the police department is the most expensive,” he said. “But the police department has been pretty sacred for a long time, because Richmond used to be a high crime city.”
There will be a special council meeting Tuesday to figure out how to fill the big budget shortfall in Richmond. The city already plans to dip into its reserve fund to cover part of the deficit in the current fiscal year.
On the other side of the Bay, Palo Alto is facing a $40 million loss in revenue. With the Stanford Shopping Center closed, and only 10% of hotels occupied, the city is losing out extensively on sales and hotel taxes.
“It’s hard because there are people who – we are paying our city employees who provide services to the city, so they’re going to be impacted, there are residents who live here, who expect these services – they’re going to be impacted,” said council member Greg Tanaka. “There are businesses here who are struggling.”
Proposed budget cuts include reducing police and fire staffing, eliminating community programs, and reducing hours at libraries. Tanaka sees opportunities to cut down on management staffing or introduce pay cuts, before making dramatic changes to public safety.
“While I’m pessimistic about how much revenue we’ll get in, I’m actually optimistic in terms of how we can still deliver the services without having major cuts,” he added.
Monday night’s meeting was just the first of three in Palo Alto. The council is expected to adopt the budget in June.