A Yukon city council member issued a challenge to the city’s manager a week ago — find a way to rehire the full-time employees who were laid off three weeks ago.
City council member Jeff Wootton issued the challenge to Jim Crosby during a city council meeting April 21, urging Crosby to rehire the workers and to find creative ways to balance the city’s budget.
Crosby accepted the challenge at that meeting, and was expected to ask the council during a special meeting Tuesday to approve his proposal, which would return most full-time workers to their jobs.
Among the departments that were heavily impacted by the layoffs were the Parks and Recreation Department, the Mabel C. Fry Public Library and the city court clerk’s office.
In addition, the director of the city’s Main Street program was laid off as was a city marshal.
In a memo to the council members, Crosby has proposed rehiring the Main Street director and the recreation department employees, and paying their salaries from the city’s hotel/motel tax receipts.
The total would be about $45,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year.
In addition, Crosby said part-time employees will also be paid from the hotel/motel tax at a cost of about $30,000.
The other employees will be rehired and paid from the general public employees sales tax (PEST) account, totaling $138,000.
Crosby said it is his plan to return the employees to work on May 6 with the Jackie Cooper Gym and the Yukon Community Center reopening on May 15.
Not all of the employees who were laid off will return. Crosby said at least one worker had already announced plans to leave at the first of June and another employee planned to retire.
However, most of the workers who were laid off will be given an opportunity to return.
Crosby has said it was always his hope to rehire the employees. Their positions were included in the 2020-21 fiscal year budget.
However, with the city’s future financial situation being murky as Yukon awaits the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic, he also has warned of possible funding issues in the future.
Over the past 12 months, from May 2019 through April 2020, Yukon has received $23,309,647 in sales tax. That is up only about $535,424 over the same period the previous year.
Crosby has warned that because so many businesses were closed, and many are still closed, that the sales tax numbers are expected to be significantly lower over the next several months.
Crosby said the city will have a balanced budget, but may be forced to dip into its “rainy day” fund to help cover some costs.
That account currently has about $7 million. However, Crosby also said it would not take long to wipe out $7 million if the city were to face a natural disaster.
He said as the budget is being prepared, staff is looking at all available options, including furloughs, a suspension of step pay raises and possible pay cuts.
The budget will also be smaller for next year in anticipation of reduced revenue.
Wootton, in his remarks, had said he was concerned about balancing the budget through layoffs.
“We must take care of the employees who have taken care of us for so long,” Wootton said.