Most of the employees caught in last week’s layoffs by the City of Yukon are workers in departments that currently are shuttered, the city manager said Monday.
In all 18 full-time employees were laid off on Thursday. Seven departments were impacted, including development services, the Mabel C. Fry Public Library, Parks and Recreation, the police department, public works, courts and information technology.
The position in the police department was a city marshal, whose job was to serve municipal warrants.
City Manager Jim Crosby said any time you lay someone off, it is difficult. But in the case of the full-time employees, the city had nothing for them to do.
For example, the police department is not arresting very many people at the moment, the municipal courts are closed and all of the activities that are handled through Parks and Recreation and the Library have been canceled.
In addition to the full-time employees, an unknown number of part-time workers simply will not be scheduled to work, Crosby said.
“This has changed our operations for a while. They will all be eligible to be hired back as soon as we can,” Crosby said.
But soon could be relative.
Even if the COVID-19 pandemic were to end this week, Crosby said the true amount of damage will not be known until July, or possibly later.
In addition, it will take most businesses that have been impacted weeks or months to recover, not days.
“We hope this is a short-time problem, but it may be longer than we think. There is great concern,” he said.
Part of that concern is how much of an impact the virus will have on the city’s budget.
Crosby said he believes Yukon will likely have to dip into its reserve funds for the first time since 2016.
While that fund contains just over $7 million, Crosby said it would not take long to go through that amount of money.
City staff is looking at other cost-cutting options, including salary cuts, furloughs, no step raises for employees and possibly more layoffs, Crosby said.
Some of those options would have to be negotiated with local unions, including both police and fire.
“We are looking at alternatives of how to meet the demands,” he said. “When this is over, how long will it take to recover? I hope it is over quickly and we get everyone back. But we’re trying to keep the budget balanced.”
Crosby said Yukon is not unlike other cities in that no one really anticipated the impact this type of situation would have.
“I’ve had many sleepless nights worrying about this. We’re going to have to work closely together, but we will get it solved,” he said.
“This is an unprecedented event and it is presenting some challenges,” Crosby said.