Impact on the city and city service innovations
As you may know, back in March we made the decision to close most city facilities in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. This was in line with the governor’s directive and CDC guidelines. However, we have continued to work on innovative ways to offer you services during this time, including:
- Video-chats with an officer about non-emergency situations.
- Chatting with a fire marshal via facetime or phone call.
- Accepting building plans (like a deck or shed) in a dropbox outside of city hall with follow–ups by phone
- Answering your questions by phone or through our website
- Collaborating with property owners to do a virtual valuation and classification of their property to avoid in person interaction
- Keeping parks (and now our golf courses) open while maintaining social distancing.
- Working on virtual and small group recreational programming for the summer.
- Continuing water, sewer and street services while maintaining a safe distance.
When we talk about the budget each year, we always plan for emergencies. However, the situation that we are facing today is nothing we could of predicted in 2019.
Back in March, the city began to see additional expenses related to adjusting city services around COVID-19. This included technology for staff to work remotely, setting up our Emergency Operations Center and providing our first responders with necessary protective equipment. This was done to make sure we took proper precautions to protect our employees and community. To counteract these unplanned expenses and potential loss of revenue due to economic downturn, we started a plan to reduce other costs for the rest of the year.
Additional expenses included:
- Sanitizing solution
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Extra hours for essential workers to keep up with COVID-19.
Reduced costs include:
- Leaving vacant positions unfilled
- Cancellation or delay in programs or projects
- Eliminating travel and training costs unless required
- Establishing a leave program to reduce overall salary expenses
These decisions have not been easy. The Council and I have been working closely with staff to make sure we are able to maintain excellent service for residents and business owners. As we look to next year’s budget we will be using the same lens in out decision making.
COVID-19 has caused many challenges for our community, and we will continue to keep that in mind as we pursue our goals for Brooklyn Park. I continue to be proud of this community and hope that you are too.
If you have any questions or concerns about the budget, please join us during council meetings or reach out to me directly. We appreciate hearing from you.