AMESBURY — It has been a modified business as usual for Amesbury and Salisbury during the COVID-19 crisis, but the situation could change in the near future.
Brookline recently furloughed 196 of its town employees, with full-time parking clerks, as well as part-time library workers and school crossing guards the most recent layoffs, but Greater Newburyport communities appear to be resisting that measure.
Amesbury closed its City Hall to all nonessential employees in mid-March and Salisbury did the same at its Town Hall.
Mayor Kassandra Gove said in an email last week that Amesbury has not furloughed any employees and staff continue to work either remotely or on a rotating basis.
“If we have projects that can’t happen right now, staff have moved to new projects,” Gove wrote. “For instance, some of our Public Works staff have shifted into making sneeze shields and otherwise prepping our city buildings to reopen to the public”
Gove said she and her administration are preparing a “one-twelfth” operating budget for the first month of fiscal 2021, which begins in July.
“State aid accounts for 19% of our total budget, and we don’t want to make determinations about our own fiscal budget before knowing exactly what the commonwealth will be doing,” Gove said.
Salisbury Town Manager Neil Harrington said in a recent email that no town employees have been furloughed and decisions have yet to be made about staffing levels moving forward.
“Several nonessential employees have been home since mid-March and some of them are working remotely,” Harrington wrote. “Everyone is being paid. We are waiting for (Gov. Charlie Baker) to announce on or around May 18 whether town halls will be allowed to reopen and, if so, under what conditions.”
Harrington said his administration is working on its fiscal 2021 operating budget and preparing for the town election on June 16 and the annual spring Town Meeting a week later.
“As of right now, we are planning to hold our annual Town Meeting on June 22, but if that changes, we may look at adopting a 1/12 budget,” Harrington wrote. “It is too early to tell.”
Amesbury Superintendent of Schools Jared Fulgoni said his district does not plan to lay off any employees for the remainder of the school year. The district’s van drivers and crossing guards have been assisting with the school lunch program.
“Teachers can come back into the building as long as they are working on remote learning. We still have some folks that are coming in and working on a rotating basis,” Fulgoni said. “The special education secretary needs to get the IEPs out and the office secretaries are here to help teachers who need information or communications and that type of thing.”
Salisbury’s public schools are part of the Triton Regional School District. Triton Superintendent Brian Forget said no school employees have been laid off and he has not made any assumptions about the next fiscal year’s budget.
“The message that has been coming fairly consistent now from the state is that we expect to be whole for fiscal year 2020,” Forget said. “For fiscal year 2021, that is where the state has talked about anywhere from a $4 billion to $5 billion shortfall in revenues. There is so much up in the air and I have heard projections that we should assume that we could lose up to 20% of our state revenues. That would be over $2 million for Triton.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.
REFER: Newburyport’s budget, Page 2.