ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – COVID-19 is causing Abilene city leaders to consider cuts to the budget for fiscal year 2021.
“So, in total revenue shortfall of about $3.13 million,” said Robert Hanna, Abilene city manager.
Hanna has suggested cutting four programs to help with the cities shortfall.
“211 call, adaptive recreation, dental program, senior transportation,” said Hanna.
Cutting back on these programs would save the city $590,000.
“The reason I’m recommending to potentially stopping these programs, is that I look at this list, and while they’re important, they’re not police, they’re not fire, they’re not parks and recreation, they’re not things that only the City of Abilene can do,” said Hanna.
While Hanna recognized these programs benefit citizens, they are activities citizens can still do or that the city is providing in another way.
Hanna proposes new ways to enhance revenue.
“The new revenue components would be $2.50 charge for senior meals, and then a $20 per player, per season facility use charge,” said Hanna.
Hanna also says there are unfilled job vacancies in the city.
“I’ve intentionally not filled vacancies, I intended to not fill $867,000 worth of positions,” said Hanna.
Hanna’s plan would also tap into surpluses, convention center capital, and 911 fees to enhance revenue, bringing in $3.135 million to balance out this year’s shortfalls.
There was conversation from council about these cuts, with Mayor Anthony Williams asking if the cutting of programs would mean lost jobs.
“My intention is that we fill our vacancies with the folks that in the program areas that we cut, could lose their job, we intentionally find a place for them so they can continue their employment with the City of Abilene if they chose to,” said Hanna.
Right now, these cuts are tentative and will be voted on in December giving Hanna about a month to help people find new jobs within the city if the proposed budget goes into place.
Abilene residents can attend the Dec. 7 and 17 meetings to hear more about the discussion.