City Manager John Glascock said Thursday he will propose the city cut 78.5 positions in an effort to balance the fiscal 2021 budget. Only 11 of those positions are currently filled.
In a news release announcing his budget plans for next fiscal year, Glascock also said that he will recommend the city not renew its contract with Columbia Public Schools to place four school resource officers in the district. Instead, the Columbia Police Department will transition the resource officers to the Community Outreach Unit in an effort to maintain Columbia’s interest in community policing. The city’s current contract with the district expires Tuesday.
This announcement comes after protestors in Columbia organized marches against police brutality after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The positions Glascock proposes cutting include a mix of full-time, part-time and temporary ones. Cuts would take effect during the city’s next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
Eliminating those positions would reduce overall city personnel spending by $3.8 million. Of that, $1.3 million is from the city’s general fund and $2.5 million is from the enterprise and internal services funds.
“I asked directors to submit to me budgets which included a ten-percent reduction in spending,” Glascock said in the release. “With the uncertainties of revenues in the next six months to year, these reductions are prudent to ensure the financial health of the city.”
Glascock will present his proposal with the rest of his draft 2021 budget in front of the Columbia City Council on July 24, according to the release. The position cuts, as well as the overall budget, would need to be approved by the council. The final budget will not be approved until after the council’s budget work session Aug. 13 and public hearings in August and September.
Glascock announced the potential need to cut city personnel during his 2020 State of the City address, where he shared a pessimistic view of the city’s future finances. The financial troubles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would only worsen things for a city already struggling with a lack of sales tax revenue, Glascock said in his address.
“I believe this pandemic will have a long-term impact on our economy,” Glascock said in May.
In addition to cutting personnel, Glascock said the city might be forced to raise utility rates in order to make up for revenue lost due to COVID-19. That idea was met with steep opposition from Mayor Brian Treece. The question of utility rates was not addressed by Glascock in his news release.