SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Effects of the COVID-19 health emergency have hit the City of Santa Barbara. On Saturday, Mayor Cathy Murillo said about 400 city workers will be let go during this crisis.
Mayor Murillo said The City of Santa Barbara has three revenue sources: property taxes, sales taxes and hotel bed taxes. Two of those taxes have nearly halted, sales and hotel bed taxes. The city is now looking for ways to pay for essential services like the Santa Barbara Police Department, Santa Barbara Fire Department and the Santa Barbara Wastewater System.
"We cannot wait for things to get back to normal," said Mayor Murillo. "In the meantime, we need to keep our wastewater treatment plant running, our law enforcement strong, people are relying on the stoplights to work and the streets to be functional. So our basic municipal services is what we want to protect with the money that we have in reserve."
Mayor Murillo said the City of Santa Barbara's policy is to have about 25% of their operating budget in reserve, which she estimates between $30 to $33 million dollars.
The 400 layoffs at the city, Mayor Murillo said, are people who are idle; library workers, after school activities rangers and other workers for services Governor Gavin Newsom has placed on hold during the non-essential businesses shut down.
"It made sense to lay them off for now, and they can apply for unemployment benefits," said Mayor Murillo. "It's very likely that many of them will be rehired."