Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna presented recommendations for the permanent closure of the city’s adaptive recreation program, its dental program and a senior transportation program at Thursday’s Abilene City Council meeting.
He also recommended the city stop providing funds to the United Way’s 2-1-1 A Call for Help, impose new fees to generate extra revenue, and leave certain positions unfilled.
Those changes are in response to budgetary shortfalls caused by loss of sales tax revenue once generated from taxing Internet access and from COVID-19.
Hanna told the council in a memorandum that the city’s Department of Finance and Accounting estimates a reduction in sales tax allocation payments for fiscal year 2021 of $2 million.
That revenue loss is likely permanent.
Sales tax accounts for about a third of the city’s general fund.
“All of these services provide essential services for the people that are using them,” Hanna said, who said he did not “make these recommendations lightly.”
But Given expected loss of revenue, “I have to cut something, I have to cut somewhere,” he said.
More: Abilene city manager to pitch $3.13 million in budget cuts, reallocation to council Thursday
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Looking at funding
The proposed cuts could allow the city to reduce expenditures by $1.46 million, through a combination of trimming programs and services — and also through leaving certain positions currently open unfilled.
Certain programs could be absorbed by existing services, such the transportation program, which serves 24 riders a day and makes about five trips a week for physician appointments.
The city already provides a public transportation system and offers on-demand ridership programs for medical appointments through CityLink, Hanna said.
Other programs, such as adaptive recreation and senior recreation, have been closed during COVID-19, Hanna said.
Hanna said that he wanted take employees from program areas that may be cut and try to place them in other open positions.
Open positions that would not be refilled would come from a variety of areas throughout the city.
New funding, reallocation
In addition to those measures, Hanna recommended the city change the use of some existing revenue and create additional funding.
Those proposals could add $1.68 million to the general fund, with the collective measures generating around $3.14 million.
New revenue would include charging $2.50 for senior meals that have previously been free, generating a net $185,920 after the loss of other donations, he said.
He pitched a $20 charge per player, per season field use charge for recreation programs, something the city has “avoided” for some time, he wrote in his memo.
That charge would generate $119,000 in revenue.
He proposed the city take $598,000 from one cent of property tax normally earmarked for maintenance at the Abilene Convention Center to offset loss of program revenue from canceled