In an effort to get ahead of any negative economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, Little Rock city directors have approved a more than 2% cut to the city’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year.
During a special meeting Wednesday, board members, many of whom were calling in through phone or video chat, voted to pass an ordinance that cuts the city’s budget by $4,928,545.
Those cuts include:
- $513,758 in part-time personnel
- $493,666 in operating expenses
- $2,921,121 in special project allocations
- $1,000,000 from the city’s contingency fund
A majority of the cuts from operating expenses comes from the city suspending its contracts with the Arkansas Arts Center, the Museum of Discovery and the Downtown Little Rock Partnership for 120 days. That will result in a savings of $345,666.
According to a document provided by the city’s finance department, the savings from part-time personnel comes from the 120 day furlough of non-essential employees who currently are not working due to the closures of facilities or programs. During the meeting, City Director Doris Wright asked Mayor Frank Scott Jr. if there would be any positions open at the city’s call center for those who are getting furloughed.
"I would like us to offer them something, an opportunity if they want to work," Wright said. Scott said the city is working with Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey on those positions, but that it would amount to around 10 jobs.
The ordinance passed by a voice vote, with City Director Ken Richardson voting no both on the ordinance and its emergency clause. After the vote, Scott said making the decisions of what to cut was difficult.
"These were tough decisions that we don’t want to make, but to preserve and protect a majority of our people, this is the best thing to do to continue essential services of Little Rock," Scott said. Scott said the board may meet again in the future to make further adjustments of the budget, as they receive more information.
The board also passed a resolution that allows for members of city boards and commissions to meet electronically and to vote on ordinances, resolutions or other matters, as long as a quorum is present.