City Announces Service Changes and Budget Cuts to Address Financial Impact of COVID-19
(Manhattan, KS - April 14, 2020) The City of Manhattan will begin implementing reductions and cancellations of services and programs along with project deferments and budget re-prioritization effective April 19, 2020. Reductions in spending are an initial step to offset major revenue shortfalls in sales taxes and other sources expected for the remainder of the 2020 budget year.
All spring and summer recreation programs will be cancelled and no temporary or seasonal staff will be continued or hired. Cancellations will include the 2020 city swimming pools season, youth and adult sports leagues, as well as all parks and recreation sponsored camps, activities and events. The Arts in the Parks concert season has also been canceled for this year. Refunds will be issued to all customers who have already registered for these Parks and Recreation programs.
Other measures the City is taking to reduce spending will include a continued closure of City facilities and attractions to the public, delays in certain planning and infrastructure projects, eliminating travel and reducing training budgets as well a selective hiring freeze of new employees for vacant positions within the organization.
In addition, the City will be implementing a new leave policy effective April 19 for employees who have been somewhat idled or had a reduced workload because of public closure of facilities and the statewide “Stay at Home” order. The leave policy will pay such employees two-thirds their regular rate of pay, with the option to use accrued leave time for the remaining one-third.
“Given these uncertain times, impending reductions in sales tax and other revenues, along with the unlikelihood of group activities being allowed or recommended well into the summer, I am implementing measures in order to reduce expenses and prepare for less revenues for the rest of the year,” said Ron Fehr, City Manager. “My initial objective is to preserve as many staff positions as possible and enhance safety, continuity of capabilities, and efficiencies where we can given the challenges of this virus, while offsetting $4 million in anticipated lost revenue. These changes will further reduce our service levels, facility operations, and programming, but they are measures which must be enacted at this time.”
After a strong first quarter of sales tax revenues, the City is projecting a major hit to this revenue source given sharp declines in local economic activity. Local sales tax proceeds make up 44% of all anticipated revenues for the City in 2020. The City estimates sales tax revenues could be anywhere between $3 to $8 million less in 2020. In addition, the City will see reductions in other revenue sources as well.
City Manager Ron Fehr added, “My focus is to have a measured approach that adjusts with evolving information in these very fluid times. These initial steps will allow us a little more time to gain a more clear understanding of revenue shortfalls and potential financial assistance information in order to adjust accordingly.”
Should the City need to make up for larger revenue decreases, evaluation of additional services and staffing levels will occur through the remainder of 2020.
Mayor Usha Reddi commented, “I am very proud of how our City employees and residents of Manhattan have responded to this pandemic. Working together, we will get through these very challenging times. I especially appreciate our front-line employees and those in the community working hard and long hours meeting the many needs.”
Anyone with questions about refunds for Parks and Recreation programs, activities, or memberships should contact 785-587-2757 during regular business hours.
For more information about the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.cityofmhk.com, follow the City of Manhattan on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Cityofmanhattan/ and on Twitter @cityofmhk.