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Kent cutting numerous jobs due to coronavirus-fueled $16 million shortfall

The summer concert series is one of many events the City of Kent has had to cut this year. (City of Kent)

Many people in Kent are about to lose their jobs as the city struggles, like so many others, through the economic realities of closing off the economy due to the coronavirus. The city budget is being slashed, and that means people are going to be out of work. Kent City Councilwoman Zandria Michaud joined the Jason Rantz Show to discuss the $16 million shortfall.

What do the cuts look like?

“Unfortunately, that means that we have to lay off employees and put an entire department on furlough. Yesterday was a bad day, … the people who are getting laid off have about another month until they’re laid off, and the furloughs start June 1 and last through August,” she said.

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“The thought was that hopefully we can save some money now, canceling all of those events and putting those employees on furlough so that we can bring them back when it is safe to have events again,” Michaud added.

How is this going to impact the services that are offered by the city to the residents?

“All of the recreation event programs were cancelled and I was looking at the list today and it is extensive. Our senior center is closed, there won’t be a Fourth of July program, the summer concert series, no summer camps. Usually the recreation department hosts free meal programs. That won’t be happening,” she said.

“I don’t think anyone has fully grasped how much it is going to impact residents yet.”

When considering why Kent is in that $16 million slump, some don’t realize how coronavirus directly impacts a city budget. How did the shortfall come to be?

“Because businesses aren’t operating fully, we are not getting the B&O taxes. There’s also the state fuel tax — people are driving less, so we’re getting less of that. So just combining those things means that there’s less revenue for the city,” she said.

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“I do want to say that I’m really thankful that previous councils in Kent had enough foresight to put a large, rainy day fund aside for us. So that’s helping mitigate some of this, because the cuts could have been much more drastic.”

Michaud says they’re only saving about $5 million with the cuts, and she doesn’t know what the future will bring.

“It’s only about $5 million that is coming from that rainy day fund,” she said. “I hope that there aren’t any more cuts. No one knows how long this is going to go on.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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