Additional Thoughts (May 17, 2020) – COVID-19 Adjustments and City Budget

May 17, 2020 | City Council

The following was originally published in my May 17, 2020 Newsletter in the “Additional Thoughts” section

I’ve spent the last week reflecting on the amount of stress people are under lately. In my A2 COVID-19 conversations, everyone acknowledges how much our lives have changed, how our interactions with the world are now limited. Many outlets for personal connection have disappeared and this has an impact on all of us. Collaboration and mutual understanding is more difficult — and less intuitive — because we are physically separated, forced to communicate from a literal distance. 

At the City, we are only just this week getting technical support together to resume all board and commission meetings. The stay-at-home order has put a lot of pressure on our IT department, who are working especially hard to transition all City meetings to virtual platforms. During the last two months, the suspension of these board and commission meetings prompted some confusion about how city business carries on via staff and Council. We are all adjusting to a new reality. Hopefully we can take a deep breath and help each other through it.

For the FY2021 budget, the City must react to significant changes in our economy these last two months. I urge everyone to take a look at the presentation offered last week in our May 11th Council work session for some sense of what the city faces in terms of budget shortfalls:

We are incredibly lucky to have Tom Crawford leading these conversations right now, because he understands our budget better than anyone else in the city (and led us through the last serious economic downturn as our Chief Financial Officer). Tom can offer us the clearest perspective on COVID-related impacts.

I appreciate everyone who has reached out to share your values and priorities with Council. We are surely making decisions in a very different context than we were one year ago.