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California City announces layoffs, budget cuts

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CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. (KGET) – Amid tough COVID-19 economic times, California City has announced budget cuts and layoffs.

In a financial update released Tuesday, City Manager Anna Linn said the cuts were necessary due to anticipated loss of tax revenue. “The exact loss of revenue cannot be projected yet, but must be anticipated,” she wrote.

The desert community, located 70 miles east of Bakersfield, is implementing a freeze of discretionary spending as well as the following multitude of cuts:

  • 50% reduction to the Parks and Recreation operational budget
  • 30% reduction to the facilities operational budget
  • 30% reduction to the building and planning budget
  • 50% reduction to the airport operating budget
  • 50% reduction to the Tierra Del Sol Golf Course budget
  • 30% reduction for city finances
  • 20% reduction for the city manager, herself.

Linn also announced the city is letting go of 24 employees, helping the city to save nearly $1.4 million in the budget.

“It is a major concern for me personally,” said Mayor Chuck McGuire. Speaking with 17 News via phone, the emotional California City mayor pointed out he, nor the council have the power to hire or fire city employees, and he praised Linn for her work as city manager, but nonetheless he said the latest cut hit him hard.

“As far as letting people go, very devastating for me personally,” he said fighting back tears. “We have some of the greatest city employees on this planet. Bear with me, you are not dealing with numbers, you are dealing with people and families,” McGuire continued.

Could we expect a similar layoffs in bakersfield? The city issued the following statement:

“There are currently no staffing reductions for the City of Bakersfield at this time. New and vacant positions will be closely reviewed through our annual budget process.

The City of Bakersfield fully supports efforts to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus by encouraging the community continue to comply with Governor Newsom’s stay at home order and adhering to social distancing guidelines issued by health officials. These actions, while necessary to respond to the public health emergency, will unfortunately impact economic activities that generate revenue for the City, including retail sales, hotel occupancy and general business to business activity. These revenues provide critical resources for the City to provide services such as police, fire, recreation and parks and street maintenance activities.

The City is expected to face declines in key funding sources in the current fiscal year and next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020. The funding sources anticipated to be most impacted in are transient occupancy tax (hotel tax), sales and use tax, utility user fees and certain fees collected within the parks system for recreation programs, aquatic programs and park reservations. The declines in revenue will require the City to act in the current year to eliminate certain budgeted capital projects and reduce operating expenses. City staff is in the process of developing its budget for fiscal year 21, which begins on July 1, 2020. Staff has revised revenue estimates for next fiscal year, which are anticipated to result in few opportunities to address key community priorities as a result of a more restrictive fiscal environment.”

City of Bakersfield

As for the County of Kern, County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop released the following statement:

“Right now, our most important task is responding to the public health threat in our community due to covid-19. We anticipate this crisis having an impact on our community in numerous ways, beyond dealing with the virus itself, and we’re planning accordingly.”

Ryan Alsop, Kern County Chief Administrative Officer

Meanwhile, Mayor McGuire remains optimistic for the desert community.

“We will get through this and we will get through this together.”

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