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Million-dollar budget deficits loom over Fresno City and County officials

News

FRESNO, California.(KSEE) — Fresno County and City expected to lose millions of dollars in sales tax due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand says gas stations, and hotels have seen less business, including tourism.

“The impact of the COVID pandemic had massive economic damage,” said Brand. “There are so many things that this thing is sinking its teeth into that is affecting how we do business in Fresno.”

Brand said the city is feeling a significant financial impact.

“A hole we estimate to be at least 39 million out of our general fund,” said Brand.

Brand proposed on Wednesday the city put the current budget planning on hold until the city can estimate the full financial impact.

The county has already lost 20% more in sales tax this year in comparison to last year. If the trend continues, it would be around a 20 million dollar deficit.

“Our budget was going to be challenged headed into next year, to begin with, and to have this shortfall of 21-22%,” said Fresno County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau. “That is $16 million dollars of the shortfall to the general fund, all of which, goes to public safety.”

Sheriff Margaret Mims said most of the Sheriff’s Office budget is spent on staffing.

“About 85% is personal cost,” said Mims. “So I am encouraging people to safely get out, spend their money, support local businesses because it is going to impact their public safety.”

Local offices say it is too determine whether or not there will be hiring freezes or layoffs.

“I don’t want to get people worried about losing their job because they may not lose their job,” said Brand. “But we have to send them a message that we are aware of it. There is a possibility. We are going to try to find ways, whether it is new funds or existing funds to best meet the core services that this city needs.”

The city and county have received federal funding from the CARES act but it cannot be used on budget expense. Local officials asked the federal government to reconsider.

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