Arlington is planning to freeze hiring, suspend pay raises, and cut other spending to make up for a $20 million drop in revenues because of the coronavirus.
"It's very difficult when you have to have reductions,” Mayor Jeff Williams said. “But it's also been difficult on our business community. It's difficult on our families. We all have to tighten our belts and get through this."
The city is already planning ways to shrink the budget by:
- Delaying this summer's police and fire academies.
- Not hiring new city workers.
- Suspending 2% employee pay raises.
- And not buying any new vehicles or even library books.
Arlington depends on sales taxes more than many cities. Sales taxes account for about 20% of the city’s $500 million yearly budget.
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But with Six Flags Over Texas, AT&T Stadium, and a brand new, never-been-used baseball stadium empty, many of Arlington’s biggest attractions are drawing zero revenue.
"When you start losing tourism, you lose the shopping, and then the University of Texas at Arlington is shut down now and that's one of our biggest economic engines,” Williams said. “So all that adds up to major revenue losses for our city."
Other large cities are in line to get emergency federal aid.
But Arlington doesn't qualify because it falls just below the 500,000 population cutoff.
It's asking lawmakers to reconsider.
For now, Arlington is bracing for a wild ride on a financial roller coaster.
"How deep it's going to be? I don't think any of us know yet,” Williams said.