“These are full-time employees and workers of the city that we very highly value. We’re going on functioning with a very minimal work staff. It’s not something we chose to do, it’s something we were forced to do,” said City Manager Joel Linares at the May 26 Moab City Council meeting.
The city announced another round of city workforce reductions, coming on the heels of a previous round of cuts on March 13. On May 26, the city cut nine full-time employees and furloughed another two. Three full-time positions have been replaced with part-time positions.
In a press release, the city also noted that departments had already made extensive cuts to planned projects and other expenditures – however, those did not total enough savings to make up for the lost tax revenue. As part of city restructuring, remaining employees will be taking on additional duties, the press release stated.
In an email to the Moab Sun News, the city disclosed that the May 21 cuts included two positions from the Administration, while the Public Safety Department had two positions eliminated and one furloughed. The Recreation Department furloughed two positions and eliminated three others – though those employees were offered permanent part-time positions. In Public Works, five positions were eliminated. In Planning and Engineering, two employees were furloughed and one position was eliminated.
60 part-time jobs in the Recreation Department were eliminated in the first round of payroll cuts.
The city said all affected employees eliminated on May 21 will continue to have health insurance coverage until June 30.
Linares was clearly emotional as he announced the reductions, pointing out it had affected almost 90 people and their families.
He noted he has received comments from the public calling for more reductions to the city workforce, and he emphasized that the city has been cutting staff since before the pandemic to try to balance the budget.
“We had financial problems prior to COVID that we’ve been working on for the last six months that we felt like we had worked through, that we felt like we were on the back side of; and then COVID set in,” he said.
“These are families and local people who work and live here. They’re members of our community… These members of our staff who have been let go or furloughed are friends of mine. It’s been a rough week. It’s not been a fun week at the city,” he said.
Linares said the city’s goal is to open City Hall in the first week of June. However, as per statewide recommendations, staff who are able to work from home will be encouraged to continue to do so.
Budget problems loom; City Hall likely to open in June
“These members of our staff who have been let go or furloughed are friends of mine. It’s been a rough week.”
– Joel Linares