NEWBURYPORT — The city will cut back on hiring seasonal employees this summer as the mayor seeks a short-term budget to help deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tasked with submitting a budget for fiscal 2021, which begins July 1, Mayor Donna Holaday — in a move planned by some other municipal leaders in Massachusetts — is instead requesting a short-term budget from the City Council. The $24.7 million continuing appropriation request would allow the city to continue to operate for the next three months while the realities of the COVID-19 set in around the state and country.
The City Council would have to approve the short-term budget request by June 30 for it to take effect, and will discuss it during their June 8 meeting.
According to a press release, preliminary revenue estimates suggest the city could see an 8% decrease in local receipts and a 12% decrease in state aid due to COVID-19.
If approved, the continuing appropriation request would allow the city to develop a budget for the rest of the year that is tailored to the community’s needs as a result of the pandemic along with the anticipated revenue loss.
Holaday said the only city employee to be furloughed due to the pandemic was a part-time Youth Services staff member who runs a currently-inactive after school program.
Otherwise, Holaday said the city has cut back on hiring seasonal Parks Department workers and is waiting on decisions from the state regarding youth programs and camps before hiring anyone for youth services this summer.
“Youth Services is basically on hold,” Holaday said.
The city also recently decided not to hire any lifeguards on Plum Island this summer, though Harbormaster Paul Hogg insists the decision was made mainly due to safety concerns for lifeguards, who could contract the virus during a rescue.
Holaday said many decisions about hiring are contingent on direction from the state that will hopefully be given soon, and that predictions about the coming months are difficult to make.
“My first priority is to save people’s jobs. We’ll see what happens through the summer,” she said.
To read the short-term budget request, visit https://www.cityofnewburyport.com/budget.