In an effort to lessen the shortfall in city revenue related to COVID-19, Portland’s chief administrative officer announced payroll restrictions Tuesday.
The restrictions include a freeze on raises and a mandatory 10-day furlough for all non-union city employees.
"To save as many jobs as possible and recover as quickly as possible, we are asking all employees to make sacrifices that help us address the anticipated shortfall,” Tom Rinehart wrote in an email to staff. The city estimates these measures could save more than $19 million.
According to Rinehart, the city is anticipating a revenue drop "worse than anything we saw during the last recession,” fueled by a sharp decrease in “everything from tourism tax to parking meter revenue.”
Hotel demand in Portland is reportedly down 80% since the pandemic began. A spokesperson for the city's transportation bureau said the city's issuing 98% fewer traffic citations than normal.
Portland officials are expecting a reduction of $100 million or more in the general fund for the upcoming fiscal year.
To mitigate the impact, Rinehart wrote there will be no cost-of-living raises for non-union employees starting July 1. Beginning Tuesday, there will be no merit increases awarded either.
Mayor Ted Wheeler has forgone his salary for the rest of the year, according to the letter. This will save the city about $95,000, according to city spokesperson Dylan Rivera.
Non-union employees will also be required to take 10 days of unpaid leave between April 30 and Oct. 7. Health care coverage will continue during the furlough days.
These announcements affect 28% of the city’s workforce who are not represented by a union — about 1,700 people, according to Rivera. The city said they’re discussing the same pay freezes and furloughs with labor leaders. This would impact police and fire employees, though, the city says, they will not asked to take furloughs.
"Our goal is to reach agreement about these approaches before Mayor Wheeler’s budget is released at the end of this month,” Rinehart wrote.
Tuesday’s announcement is the latest in a series of cost-cutting measures the city has made since Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order. The parks bureau laid off 950 part-time employees in early April. And the City Council is poised to authorize $100 million in revenue bonds to keep the city functioning during the pandemic. Portland is also expecting another $100 million through the federal coronavirus relief package, though it’s not yet clear how officials will be able to spend that money.