El Paso, TX City budget hemorrhaging – city had projected a $6 million surplus for fy2020 (ending Sept. 1), City projecting a $26M deficit. City manager states “Nothing will be open this summer, possible layoffs and furloughs.”

Source: Anonymous Whistleblower:

April 13, 2020

City Team Members:  As we are all aware, the current COVID-19 health crisis is causing negative economic and financial impacts for every City and State across the nation. Although, we have strengthened our financial position over the years, we are not immune to this crisis.

As a nimble and proactive organization, we took steps early to combat the pandemic budget impact. However, we must continue our financial stewardship in addressing these challenges and take additional steps. Although, we were forward looking in our financial forecasting the last five years, no one could have imagined a pandemic of this magnitude affecting us in this way. The current health pandemic has put our organization in a position that requires us to begin making very difficult decisions. To that end, I have asked our leadership team to review all areas of our operations in order to find ways to decrease expenses and protect the future well-being of our organization.

As a result of this analysis and in an effort to manage our financial resources during this economically challenging time, the leadership team has come to a difficult but necessary conclusion. Effective May 24, 2020, all EX 1 and 2 employees, including the City Manager and City Attorney, will receive a 5 percent reduction in their annual salary, all EX 3, 4, 5, and employees on the Legal Pay Scale will receive a 2% reduction in their annual salary, all other employees will receive a 1% reduction in their hourly pay rate. The temporary pay reduction of 1 percent is the equivalent of a 1 percent pay raise employees received March 1, 2020. These pay reductions will be effective for 12 weeks from the effective date.

We are in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis that will continue to have a financial impact on our organization for an extended period of time, probably two or three years according to some economists. While we have identified other reductions to balance the budget for the remainder of this fiscal year—such as service adjustments/modifications in various departments, closed multiple facilities and delayed the opening of new amenities—we must focus on an even greater financial challenge next year, that will be at least two times worse, if not triple our current rate.

This was an extremely tough decision, and we can only imagine the impact this will have on you and your family. However, please know that we have and will continue to exhaust all financial tools and resources available in order to minimize the impact on you and your family. The leadership team will continue to monitor the City’s finances and reevaluate this decision each quarter this year.

We appreciate all your hard work and dedication during these challenging times. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak with your supervisor or contact the Human Resources Department.

Sincerely,

Tommy Gonzalez [City Manager]