Faced with revenue shortfall in its current budget, the City of Fredericksburg will furlough 40 staff members beginning May 2 and reduce the salaries for many of the remaining employees.
“It is always a challenge, even in normal times, to meet the community’s service needs while providing a competitive and attractive package of salaries and benefits for those who work diligently each day to meet those needs,” said City Manager Tim Baroody. “The current crisis, given its uncertain length as well as the unknowable extent to which it will change all of our lives over the long term, has made this challenge infinitely more difficult to meet.”
Fredericksburg is facing a possible $4 million to $8 million deficit in its current budget due to the economic impact of COVID-19. Revenue has dropped off sharply from sales, meals, hotel lodging and amusement taxes as most people were urged to stay at home and restaurants were forced to switch to takeout and delivery. Those funding streams account for about 27 percent of all city revenue.
Baroody told employees Thursday that the furlough period is expected to last until at least July 31, and that those affected will be notified by mid-July of their employment status after that date. About three-fourths are permanent part-time employees; the rest are permanent full-time employees.
He said that the salary reductions will be 2 percent of salaries up to $70,000 and 3 percent of salaries above $70,000 for all remaining non-public safety employees, including himself. The cuts will go into effect on the same date as the furloughs.
Other reductions include an immediate freeze on most hiring. Planned spending will also be reduced to the city’s school system, the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, the Doris E. Buffett Pool at Dixon Park and other parks and capital projects.
City staff will continue to work on plans to expand capacity to ease overcrowding at some of the city’s schools, which has been a hot-button issue with many parents. Work will also go forward on the city’s Small Area Plans, as well as protection of historic resources. In addition, the city will continue to provide “the highest quality of public safety services and to continue to implement environmental priorities,” Baroody said.
“Ensuring a strong footing financially now will position the city to continue the important work of community building, admittedly at a slower pace, that City Council began several years ago by crafting its 2036 vision and adopting a strategic plan to achieve that vision,” he said.
The city manager pointed to the hundreds of millions of dollars in current public and private investment in the city, including Chatham Bridge, Liberty Place, Frederick Street Lofts, William Square and the Fredericksburg Nationals baseball team as showing “our overall economy is still moving ahead.”
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407