JACKSON, Wyo. (KIFI/KIDK)-The Jackson Town Council’s final draft budget will not call for any layoffs, yet, but some open positions will not be filled.
The council’s budget plan focuses on the expected loss of revenue as a result of COVID-19, along with the ever-increasing cost of services.
Budget reductions include a decrease in capital expenditures and substantial cuts in departments and core programs. The largest decreases will see Fire/EMS cut by 13%, Police by 16%, Public Works by 23% and START Bus by 14%.
The town expects revenues in sales and lodging tax revenues to be down by 50%, or $7.5 million in the coming year. Council was unanimous in providing funding for social service programs, agreeing that they were a higher priority now than ever before. All were fully funded.
Vice Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson said, “The safety net the caring sector provides our community is facing increased demand for services as repercussions from the pandemic begin to appear. We all felt the need to prioritize funding there.”
To do that, the town will utilize funds from its reserve account. Officials pointed out that would be a one-time fix.
“At our retreat in January, we talked about the need for more revenue. COVID came along and changed quite a lot, but that underlying need has not shifted. It has only increased,” said Councilor Arne Jorgensen. “I look at the use of the reserve funds as a buffer. We are in extremely anxious times and having these savings to use is a buffer against that anxiety, but it is a short-term solution. My sense is that, for the longer-term, adding an additional cent of sales tax is a necessity.”
A final budget meeting is set for June 15.