The City of Manhattan has announced some drastic service changes and budget cuts to address the financial impact of COVID-19.
All spring and summer recreation programs will be cancelled, including the city swimming pool season, youth and adult sports leagues as well as parks and recreation sponsored camps, activities and events, including Arts in the Parks. City Manager Ron Fehr says with sales tax revenues estimated to be anywhere between $3 to $8 million less, these were difficult but necessary decisions.
“It takes a lot of money to open the pools and to run those programs. That’s a significant cost savings for us plus it’s not realistic we’d have good participation or even should be providing for that participation because most of the guidance is that you should still limit large gatherings well into the future,” he said.
Refunds will be issued to all customers who have already registered for Parks & Rec programs.
Other measures the City is taking to reduce spending will include a continued closure of City facilities and attractions to the public, delays in certain planning and infrastructure projects, eliminating travel and reducing training budgets as well a selective hiring freeze of new employees for vacant positions within the organization.
In addition, the city is implementing a new leave policy going into effect April 19 for employees who have been somewhat idled or had a reduced workload. It will pay those employees two-thirds of their regular pay rate, with the option to use accrued leave time for the remaining one-third. Fehr says doing so allows them to stay in compliance with the federal leave program.
“We’re keeping our workforce separated so that if there was a situation where we had a breakout in a particular division that it only affects part of them and we still have workers to be able to meet the needs,” he said.
Additional services and staffing could be impacted should larger revenue decreases occur through the remainder of the year.
“I am very proud of how our City employees and residents of Manhattan have responded to this pandemic. Working together, we will get through these very challenging times. I especially appreciate our front-line employees and those in the community working hard and long hours meeting the many needs,” Mayor Usha Reddi said.
Anyone with questions about refunds for Parks and Recreation programs, activities, or memberships should contact 785-587-2757 during regular business hours.