At this time administrators don’t know for certain the full extent of the damage to the city’s hard-hit economy.
In response to the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in hard-hit South Florida, Miami’s city government is preparing to address a projected $19 million shortfall by proposing a hiring freeze, as well as cutting budgets across all municipal departments.
With this proposed move, the city aims to avoid layoffs and furloughs to its public servants.
“This reduction of expenditures will be achieved by all departments and, at the moment, defers the need for across-the-board personnel adjustments in the current year,” City Manager Art Noriega wrote in a memo, taking care to emphasize, in bold letters, that the measures should help keep the wolves away, but promising only for now.
The social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders issued in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus that shuttered restaurants and movie theaters, and forced the cancellation of concerts and sports activities, hit the tourist-dependent Sunshine State hard.
Miami, Florida’s glitz capital, may have suffered the lion’s share of the economic fallout, leaving the city’s administrators to deal with significant revenue shortfalls. In fact, Miami-Dade County saw its hotel tax revenue drop a whopping 62% in March, and a county sales tax on restaurants fell 57%. When taking into account that this same sales tax helps fund programs for homeless residents and domestic violence victims, it’s clear that the city’s financial crisis severely impacts its most vulnerable citizens.
Another example of the effects of the budget cuts is North Miami. In part, because the city isn’t getting any revenues for its rental facilities and parks, it furloughed about 140 part-time employees who aren’t working or being paid.
Even ritzy Coral Gables is feeling the pinch: the so-called “city beautiful” is projecting a $10 million budget hole this fiscal year, $4 million from parking receipts alone.
A Contingency Plan
In a virtual meeting beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Miami commissioners will study adjustments meant to fill the financial gap.
Some of the proposed adjustments include deferring a quarter-million-dollar upgrade to the city’s information technology systems, and $300,000 to update air conditioning units at police stations.
At this time administrators don’t know for certain the full extent of the damage to the city’s economy, so it’s also hard to say how the taxpayers will be impacted by the reduction of expenditures and services.