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Mayor says layoffs loom if no federal help
Saturday, 01 August 2020 15:09

From Staff Reports

Layoffs could be looming for those who work for the city of Asheville, Mayor Esther Manheimer said during a conference call with five other North Carolina mayors on July 21, Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported later July 21.

Along with Manheimer, the mayors of High Point, Salisbury, Kinston and Lexington said they need federal help to avoid making drastic cuts because of financial losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To that end, they are “calling on U.S. lawmakers to pass a $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package with direct payments to cities,” News 13 noted.

Regarding where Asheville’s city government will be if it fails to get federal aid, Manheimer was quoted by News 13 as saying, “What we’ll have to do is we will have to continue with hiring freezes ... We will have to look at layoffs.

“Here in Asheville, for the fiscal year that just ended, for example, we were hit very hard by the pandemic.” The other mayors expressed similar concerns about being their ability to provide public services without any money arriving. The mayors noted that some of their cities lack savings with which to cover setbacks.

“Manheimer said losses in revenue from categories such as parking, transit and sales taxes caused a $5 million shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30,” News 13 reported. 

The city is projecting another $3 million loss in the new fiscal year, she said, adding that the city is dipping into savings — something it has not had to do since the Great Recession. “But that was a more gradual experience for the city. It was devastating, but it was more gradual. This is like falling off a cliff or slamming on the breaks,” News 13 quoted Manheimer as saying 

What’s more, Manheimer said with the ongoing pandemic the city cannot afford to make cuts to public service “This week the Senate is back in Washington, and I would urge them to make this issue priority No. 1,” Manheimer said, according to News 13.

“Manheimer said Asheville was shut out of the last round of federal money because the city failed to meet the 500,000 population requirement,” News 13 noted. “She said the city did get some federal money that was dispersed by Buncombe County.”



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