After several months of being overwhelmed by the ghost-like unpredictability of Covid-19, the city of Rochester is being forced into survival mode, in order to continue its obligation to provide essential services and take care of the community.
An allegorical representation of the mayor’s description of hardships, while governing in this overwhelming climate can be compared to walking on a high-wire, when you have to balance ‘essential’ spending, against protecting the financial well-being of the city and avoiding bankruptcy.
Recently, Warren announced that the negative effects from Covid-19 on the city’s economy, is why city officials have to start looking at ways to cut employee costs.
Options thus far includes layoffs and furloughs throughout all departments. The measure could affect any of the estimated three-thousand employees.
“Covid-19 has rained in our ability to do our job,” Mayor Warren explained. “We have a situation where we get revenues three ways that includes property tax, federal aid and sales tax dollars. And sixty-eight percent of that goes directly to the school district. And that is by state law. Plus, simultaneously, our other two revenue streams have been significantly hit and we do not know when we will be able to cover it,” she said.
I cannot provide an exact date, when the city will reopen at this time, but I know it is not going to be before May 15, 2020. However, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has tapped President and Chief Executive Director of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Robert Duffy, to work with the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council in leading and developing a plan and roll-out strategy that would allow the city and surrounding towns and villages to reopen safely and not trigger a backlash.
Many of the city’s summer events have been cancelled including the Summer Fest, Park Ave Fest, Puerto Rican Fest, or events have been rescheduled like, what happened with the Jazz fest, which is now set to commence in mid-October 2020.
“A lot of it has to do with booking,” Mayor Warren explained. “If you book them and have to cancel, you still have to pay the artists. We are not sure if we are going to be able to have mass gatherings this summer. It depends on what the health director and those in the healthcare field determine the best course of action. So, we have to wait to see.”
In regard to the circus happening around the Rochester City School District, the Mayor believes we cannot continue to do the same thing over and over again and continue to get the same result.
“We have to do everything humanly possible to make sure our children get the best chance at life and thus far we have not done that,” she asserted. “It is time we stop playing with children's lives. I have been saying this for a while. And people be like…... what is the Mayor doing? I do not know, besides going to court arguing for our kids and to Albany pleading for help,” she pointed-out. “Around this same time last year, I said if you guys do not come in and do something, we will be right back here. When we got the superintendent, I said you have to do something about the governance, because no one is going to stay in this situation. And I do not blame Superintendent Dade. He came here with the best intentions. He did not realize; we had the budget gap we had. Then, for him to be trying to do the right thing and be ridiculed, demeaned and degraded like he was behind closed doors, he did not have to stand for, and he didn’t.”
Article by: Author Rodney Brown, executive director Brown Publishing LLC and Southwest Tribune Newspaper