YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The City of Youngstown may need additional furloughs — and possibly even layoffs — to balance a budget that’s been hammered by drastically reduced income tax collections brought on by COVID-19.
The situation was presented Monday morning to Youngstown City Council during a virtual meeting. Youngstown’s interim finance director Kyle Miasek made it clear the situation was not good.
“We are going to struggle going forward,” he said.
Miasek told city council tax collections are $1.6 million — 3.5% short of what was budgeted. Taxes from the city’s three largest employers — Vallourec Star, Youngstown State and St. Elizabeth Hospital — are way down.
Miasek is forecasting a year-end budget shortage of $4 million, or 8.7% less than what was budgeted.
“It’s going to be a large obstacle ahead of us to close that gap,” he said.
Miasek said more furloughs, in addition to the 89 already in place, may be necessary.
He hopes the federal program known as CARES is extended beyond July 31 so employees furloughed can collect unemployment.
Miasek did not rule out layoffs and neither did councilwoman Basia Adamczak.
“I think we should at least be preparing ourselves for that possibility that it may happen,” she said. “I know we don’t want to state it prematurely, but it seems as though that it may end up happening.”
Miasek also addressed issues in the water department with more people not paying their bills. He said the city had 200 customers exceeding 90 days but after sending mailers, 70% of them paid.
There’s a much larger group that are 30 to 60 days behind, so more mailers will be sent out.
“By making them aware that we’re going to possibly shut off services, that those people will make those accounts whole,” Miasek said. “We are definitely going to see an impact at year’s end where some of these accounts — people asking to go on payment plans.”
Council members were also updated on the situation with the fire department. Stations are now being temporarily closed on a rotating basis because the department has run out of overtime money. Council will have a safety committee meeting Thursday afternoon where the fire station situation is expected to be discussed further.