As a city, we must face a harsh economic reality


May 27, 2020 — Guest Viewpoint

(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)

I have been working with our city staff for almost six years now and find them to be very knowledgeable, professional and dedicated to our city.

If they don’t have an answer to your questions, they will find one if there is one to be found. I interact on a council level, as a  homeowner, HOA board member and member of our volunteer community.

Uniformly the responses from our city staff has been great.

As with the rest of our country, Florence is going to have to learn to live with a new normal. Hopefully, we are listening to our public health care experts and heeding their advice about the safest ways to resume business activity, socialization and school attendance.

We know that we are heading toward a deep recession in addition to dealing with COVID-19. What we don’t know is how long and how deep it may be.

The revenue from the gas tax and room tax that Florence will lose will hurt us financially. It is heartbreaking to think of the number of small- and medium-sized businesses that may be lost.

While it is a harsh reality, we must face the prospect of a lengthy recession, to say nothing of the possibility of a true depression.

Here in Florence, the city is at full staff at this time — the first time in my service.

I have written to Governor Brown asking for a freeze on hiring and a freeze on salaries and wages (with a few exceptions) for our state, county and municipalities.

The city is looking at very significant increases in its healthcare costs and across the board increases in wages, utilities and services. 

I believe Florence needs to look at the idea of a wage freeze and hiring freeze for municipal employees. Isn’t that the best way to try to protect our valued employees when we read and hear about the staggering number of layoffs in today’s economic world?

I am speaking for myself, as a citizen, and not for the city council.

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