The Palm Springs City Council passed the 2020 / 2021 budget 3 to 2 on Tuesday.
Palm Springs Mayor Geoff Kors says the effects of COVID-19 on the city’s fiscal health have been severe. “This budget forecast of $47 million in reduction in $128 million dollar budget is enormous and just from March to June we had a $28 million dollar shortfall.”
To adjust the city had to trim budgets in every department, cut staff and used more than half of their reserves.
“Eighty-two positions were cut in the city budget which brings us down to 420 employees which is similar to where we were during the great recession,” says Kors.
Councilmembers Christie Holstege, who is also mayor pro tem, and Grace Elena Garner wanted to see more changes especially with police and voted against it, still public safety saw deep cuts with about 35 police and fire staff layoffs.
“Over $3 million dollars was cut from the police budget so 19 of 104 personnel in police budget were cut, that includes eight sworn officers,” says Kors.
Over $800,000 was allocated for patrol car and officer worn body cameras from the general fund instead of the police budget to prevent more staff cuts in the department.
Palm Springs City Manager David Ready says these latest closures ordered by Governor Newsom show the challenges in planning a budget during this pandemic, “There’s so many unknown variables and just a big number all at once and we don’t know how the outcome is going to be and in what time frame so this obviously is much more challenging but I just want to assure everyone at city hall is focused on making sure everyone’s safe.”
Ready says the budget will need to be looked at and adjusted every month, but if closures continue and revenue doesn’t come in as expected, “Then we will have to make additional cuts moving forward and at this point it will have to be obviously in personnel because that’s where the majority of the expense is,” adding that at least the budget was approved so they can move forward and they are cautiously optimistic.