Facing a challenging city budget future even before the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the local economy, the Concord City Council took small steps Tuesday to save money by cutting their own salaries, and those of top city managers.
By a 5-0 vote, council members voted to slash their own pay by 10 percent, from $1,352 per month to $1,216.80. The council also voted to cut by 5 percent the salaries of top city executives, including City Manager Valerie Barone, City Attorney Susanne Brown and police Chief Mark Bustillos, as well as other executive management employees, non-sworn managers and confidential employees.
The salary cuts, combined with scheduled furloughs and 401(k) contribution cuts, together would amount to an approximate 9 percent cut in overall compensation through June 2021, a city report says.
With the council members’ reductions, the city will save approximately $12,770 through fiscal year 2020-21. The executive/managerial/confidential employee cuts total $1.575 million through June 2021.
The city of Concord, which went through major budget cuts during the Great Recession about 10 years ago, was facing some tough financial decisions even before the coronavirus pandemic struck. Concord Mayor Tim McGallian said after Tuesday’s meeting that the city never fully recovered from cuts made then.
Now, Concord and many other California cities will likely take major financial hits from the pandemic and its effects.
“We were already facing substantial financial challenges before this (coronavirus) event,” Concord finance director Karan Reid said Tuesday. “And now the situation will likely get worse.”
The overall estimated reductions to Concord’s general fund revenues are estimated to be between 7.3 and 12.8 percent for fiscal year 2019-20 and between 13.1 and 20.8 percent for fiscal year 2020-21. Reid said city sales tax revenue is expected to drop as much as 22 percent by June, and by 32 percent by June 2021.
The city is aiming for a 20 percent reserve by June 2021, which will require between $11 million and $24 million in either cuts or in new revenue sources.
Some cuts have already been made; city departments have already come up with $2.56 million in savings. But Barone told the council Tuesday that without significant outside help — perhaps some direct payments from a second massive federal aid package, which are far from certain — the city may well have to make unpopular service cuts before the end of June.
On the other hand, Reid said the projected budget numbers could change significantly, based largely on how soon the shelter-in-place order is lifted and how incrementally various sectors of the area economy rebound.