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City of Auburn Makes Additional Service Cuts Due to COVID-19 Budget Impact

The City of Auburn announced service reductions due to the financial impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial changes announced are in the city’s Public Works department. Further reductions and changes in service are being implemented in additional city departments.

Parks, Arts, and Rec

The cancellation of the following major events and performing arts have previously been announced:

  • All performances at the Auburn Ave. Theater
  • Petpalooza – Saturday, May 19, 2020
  • KidsDay – Friday, June 19, 2020
  • 4th of July – Saturday, July 4, 2020

The events and programs listed below have also been cancelled to help address the city’s 2020 budget shortfall. Most of these programs were considered for cancellation because of the large numbers of people that gather for the program.

  • Summer Youth Sport Leagues
  • Kids SummerStage Series
  • Summer Sounds & Cinema Series
  • Almost 5K Fun Run, August 7, 2020
  • AuburnFest & Auburn Days Parade, August 8, 2020
  • Auburn Community Teen Players production – July/August 2020
  • Eliminate Halloween Harvest Festival – October 2020
  • Eliminate Teen Hype Night – September-December 2020
  • Red, White & Blue Holiday Concert – December 2020

In addition to the cancellation of events, the Downtown Flower Hanging basket program will be suspended for this summer. “This program relies on seasonal staff for on-going maintenance and care throughout the summer season. Those seasonal staff positions have been suspended, so the program has been suspended for this season,” explains Parks, Arts and Rec Department Director Daryl Faber.

A decision on the Auburn Veterans Day parade has not been made at this time.

Police Department

“COVID-related budget cuts should not impact service levels as we are freezing four commissioned officer positions which have been unfilled since 2019,” explained Chief Dan O’Neil. “The Police Department is also freezing the Records Manager Position that was vacated when Chris James retired June 1.  Additionally, the Police Department has cut money from the training budget. Cuts to the training budget [were made] as most trainings in the region have been cancelled or delayed as a result of the Covid crisis.”

Innovation and Technology

1) Freezing a Support Specialist position

2) Slowed down the rehiring of a Network Services Manager

3). Did not backfill a GIS position while personnel was on leave

4) No out-state travel for education or events

5) One employee assigned to the shared work program

6) Reviewing vendor contracts and support agreements for cost reductions

Community Development

The Community Development programs the public may notice that have been reduced or suspended through the remainder of 2020 are:

Until July 26, 2020:

  • Permit Center is closed on Fridays
  • Permit and license review times frames are extended due to furloughs and reduced hours

For the remainder of the year:

Programs Suspended: 

  • Downtown façade improvement grant program
  • National Night Out (already announced)
  • Community Picnics
  • Hwy 18 Underpass Bridge Lighting Project (at Auburn Way South)

Services Reduced: 

  • The Code Enforcement abatement program budget reduced by 50%.  This program is where the city cleans up private property due to property owner action.

“These program and service reductions are necessary because of the positions that will remain vacant as part of the City’s temporary hiring freeze and because of furloughs of city employees,” said Community Development Director Jeff Tate. “Citywide, employee costs make up approximately 61% of the overall general fund budget for the City and holding positions vacant provides a significant reduction in our costs for 2020, allowing us to remain within the funding we are anticipating.”

Budget shortfalls due to COVID-19 are not only impacting the City of Auburn. Washington State is facing an estimated $8.8 billion budget deficit through 2023. 

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