Cleveland Still Unsure Of Total COVID-19 Toll On City Budget

Apr 26, 2020
Originally published on April 24, 2020 6:04 pm

Cleveland is still waiting on more information to determine the full impact of the coronavirus on the city budget, Mayor Frank Jackson said Friday, though current estimates place the losses at several million dollars.

The city has multiple sources of revenue impacted by the coronavirus, Jackson said, including parking, event and venue admissions taxes and income taxes.

The city has some reserves in its budget in anticipation of a recession, Jackson said, but it was anticipated that recession would come later on, rather than in the first quarter of the budget year. And the reserve funds are currently being spent to keep general operations going, Jackson said.

“Whatever we had in reserves to deal with that, is being eaten into currently because we have not laid anybody off,” Jackson said. “We have the same costs of running our operation.”

There are no current plans to lay off any city employees, Jackson said.

“That does not mean that we’re not going to be prudent and look at this as it goes on,” Jackson said.

The exact amount of income tax revenue lost won’t be clear until April’s income tax figures come in next month, he said.

City officials are in strategic planning sessions to determine how to open safely as the stay-at-home order begins to lessen restrictions, Jackson said.

The city will follow Gov. Mike DeWine’s lead as far as what is allowed to open starting May 1, he said.

“Our plan is to stay within his guidelines and work within those guidelines, while at the same time having a Cleveland-specific approach.”

The city’s small business loan program ran out of money shortly after it was announced, but officials are continuing to plan additional assistance moving forward, Jackson said, as some will not see the much-needed uptick in businesses following the state’s initial reopening.

“As long as there is no mass gatherings and you don’t have people walking around, roaming around and doing things,” Jackson said, “then types of businesses, even if they were open, they would not be able to produce the revenue to cover the cost of even being open.”

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