EVERETT, Wash. -- The city of Everett is cutting dozens of employees through a series of layoffs, furloughs and the elimination of open positions.
City officials are staring into a $14 million deficit and worry it could be even bigger.
It’s not the first local large city announcing layoffs due to the coronavirus crisis.
Everett’s Mayor Cassie Franklin calls the city’s financial outlook is bleak. The city has slashed jobs and programs to address the shortfall.
Also, a union representing some of those out of a job says city leaders should have done more before the crisis.
“I’d been on furlough and I got a call on Friday at noon that I got laid off,” said Craig Callies who had worked as a horticulturist for the city for more than two decades.
He helped bring bright colors to the city but now revenues are dying on the vine.
“We’d have beautiful baskets on this pole,” he said. “They will remain empty this year.”
It’s not just the flowers that are canceled. The city pool and senior center are now closed.
Shuttered businesses downtown mean revenues for the city have all but evaporated.
What’s worse, the $14 million deficit could just be the start.
“At this point we don’t know how deep the hole is,” said Franklin.
Layoffs, furloughs, hiring and travel freezes are all part of the effort to cut costs. In the past several years, Franklin says she’s trimmed more than $7.5 million from the budget, but more must be done in response to the crisis.
“Every year I’ve been very public about the state of our budget,” she said.
“The current mayor has been in office for over two years,” said Chris Dugovich, who works with a labor union that representing some of the city employees now let go.
He says the city should have cut spending more aggressively years ago.
“We’re hopeful that congress steps up and provides some stimulus,” he said.
Callies says he’s got a gig that could keep him afloat but feels sad he can’t bring a splash of color when it’s needed most.
“It’s sad because we enjoyed working for the city and making the properties look nice,” said Callies.