City Council to Evaluate Options this Fall in Response to Historic Revenue Decline
On September 8, 2020, the City Administration will review an updated financial forecast and present several recommendations to the City Council on how to proceed with reducing expenditures due to revenue losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Champaign has seen significant declines in major revenues since the onset of the pandemic and this trend is anticipated to continue into the 2021/22 fiscal year.
Finance Director Kay Nees said, “We are projecting a significant reduction in revenues received from sales tax, income tax, food and beverage tax, hotel-motel taxes, and other tax revenues. Our preliminary financial forecast shows that if budgeted expenditures are not adjusted in the current fiscal year, the City will need to cut recurring General Fund expenditures by $5-6 million to meet its financial policies. Next week we will recommend several strategies to develop cost savings options for City Council consideration later this Fall.”
City Manager Dorothy Ann David adds, “The economic impacts of COVID-19 on our community are being felt by everyone, and the City of Champaign is no exception. The rapid and significant loss of revenue from the economic decline requires quick action on the part of the City to assure that critical services can be maintained into the future. Our #1 priority is serving our community, and the community is relying on City government support in these challenging times. However, we have an obligation to be good stewards of public resources and keep the costs of services within available funding levels. To address these historic revenue losses, the City will have to consider reductions in certain City services to close the projected budget gap.”
When adopting the 2020/21 fiscal year budget in July, the City Council directed staff to develop a second-tier budget process and bring back expenditure reduction options for Council consideration prior to the end of the calendar year. Next week during their Study Session meeting, the Council will review staff proposals on how to proceed with the second-tier budget process. City Administration will recommend exploring a variety of strategies to reduce expenditures, including:
- Direct all City departments to identify possible service reductions that would generate savings equivalent to 15% of departmental budgets.
- Review the Capital Improvement Plan to generate ideas to reduce recurring capital improvement expenditures of $2.0 million.
- Implement a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) to reduce the City’s workforce and related personnel expenditures.
- City Administration will explore additional organization-wide cost-savings strategies such as evaluating the cost of health insurance and future compensation and benefits.
- City Administration will meet with the leadership of all City bargaining units to obtain employee input and ideas on how to modify/reduce City services to achieve savings.
- City Administration will establish a process to solicit ideas from individual employees on how to modify/reduce City services to achieve savings.
The Administration will work with City Departments and employee groups over the next few months on various budget balancing options for Council consideration. Staff will bring forward an updated forecast and savings options/service reductions for Council consideration in a future Study Session prior to the end of the 2020 calendar year.
For more information about these recommendations the public is encouraged to review the Study Session Report (SS 2020-022 – Fiscal Year 2020/21 Budget Update) on the City’s website (champaignil.gov/council). The City Council will consider the Administration’s proposals during their meeting on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. The meeting starts at 7:00 pm and will be held electronically via Zoom. The City Council meeting will be telecast live on CGTV (Comcast and i3 Broadband channel 5, U-verse channel 99) and live streamed on the City’s website (champaignil.gov/CGTV). The meeting will also replay on CGTV and be available for on-demand viewing on the City’s website (champaignil.gov/CGTV) starting on September 9. To learn how to provide public comment during the meeting please visit the City’s website at champaignil.gov/publiccomment.