ROME, N.Y. – Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo announced cost-saving measures the city will be taking to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including keeping parks closed and negotiating agreements with city worker unions.
Izzo says the city will lose roughly $2 million in sales tax revenue after seeing a decrease of about 25% in the second quarter, and projecting an average 20% decline for the next two quarters.
“The coronavirus pandemic has had a crippling effect on local economies, and the city of Rome must take actions now to curb the projected loss of sales tax revenue and a possible 20% decrease in Aid in Municipalities funding provided by New York State,” said Izzo in a statement released Friday.
She added that any vacant positions budgeted in 2020 will not be filled, which follows the hiring freeze put in place when the state of emergency was issued in March.
Playgrounds and pools will also remain closed to comply with state social distancing and mass gathering restrictions, according to Izzo. This will save the city from funding recreational park programs over the summer, and paying seasonal parks employees.
An agreement has also been reached with the Civil Service Employees Association, a labor union that represents employees in state and local government.
The 32 CSEA employees in Rome will participate in the Department of Labor’s Shared Work program starting June 1, working 60% of the time and collecting unemployment two days per week.
“Employee shifts will be staggered providing full department coverage every work week for the duration of the Shared Work program. Employees will retain all their benefits including health insurance during this time,” said Izzo.
According to the Department of Labor, the Shared Work program is designed to help employers manage work adjustments while helping to spare their workers the hardships of full unemployment.
The city is working on negotiations with the Communications Workers of America union. The CWA workers have the option to also join the Shared Work program, or face layoffs.
“This is an unfortunate situation, but we must begin dealing with the projected revenue losses immediately. We understand this will curtail our ability to quickly deliver essential services, but the Shared Work program fulfills our objectives of keeping our workforce intact, provide continuity of services and beginning to mitigate the loss of budgeted revenue to minimize the impact on the taxpayers of the city of Rome,” said Izzo.
It is not clear how long the CWA has to reach an agreement with the city.