The city of Half Moon Bay is considering furloughing and laying off some of its workforce to make up a portion of a projected financial shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic. The City Council will review recommendations tonight.
The current public health crisis has spurred an economic downturn across the country with more than 28 million people filing for unemployment. Many cities are grappling with an uncertain financial future, including Half Moon Bay, which is projecting a $9.1 million deficit for a 16-month period that began in March.
Labor negotiators have met with the Half Moon Bay City Council in several closed sessions in recent weeks to discuss how to compensate for lost revenues.
Now City Manager Bob Nisbet is suggesting eliminating six positions, including his executive assistant, a recreation leader and a management analyst. Five of the positions are filled and the employees would be laid off by the middle of this month. The other position is vacant and would remain so. The proposed layoffs would reduce the city’s deficit by about $430,000, according to the staff report.
Other considerations include a 10 percent furlough for all city employees and no vacation payoff for the next fiscal year. While the management union has agreed to the cuts, effective July 1, Local 39 has not and is still in negotiations with the city, according to City Clerk Jessica Blair.
Additionally, City Manager Bob Nisbet is proposing a furlough equal to a 10 percent reduction in his salary, essentially reducing his hours from 40 to 36 a week. This means effective May 1, Nisbet’s salary decreased from $236,500 to $215,000.
Also, the city’s five department heads, Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester, City Clerk Jessica Blair, Administrative Services Director Lisa Lopez, Public Works Director John Doughty and Community Development Director Jill Ekas are taking a furlough equivalent to a 10 percent salary reduction effective as of May 1.
In the staff report, Nisbet says the reduction in his hours may not be feasible given the nature of his work, but that he will attempt to reduce his hours by 10 percent. By agreement, the council would reconsider Nisbet’s salary furlough as part of his annual performance evaluation. Nisbet is expected to have another evaluation in July.
These cuts to the city’s workforce are just one of the ways being considered to assist with the multi-million dollar shortfall. Other options include cutting funding for several capital improvement projects.