Roanoke Rapids City Manager Joseph Scherer and Finance Director Leigh Etheridge expect the novel coronavirus to have negative impacts which will be reflected in planning for the upcoming fiscal year budget.
“Like every other city in North Carolina, the COVID-19 virus has had a negative impact on our economy,” Scherer said in his report to council Tuesday evening. “This means our revenue will be reduced, leading me to determine spending reduction measures to implement for the rest of this fiscal year.”
The city manager said, “While the total economic impact of the virus cannot be measured yet, I know next year’s budget will be negatively impacted as well so we are looking at a very restrictive budget for the city (in the 2020/21 fiscal year).”
Council met Tuesday night using a webinar format with the Zoom application to comply with current social distancing measures in place. One person who had signed up to speak about the virus and the current curfew in place did not log in.
In her report to council, Etheridge said, “As a result of the current COVID-19 virus pandemic, we will recognize revenue shortfalls due to loss in sales and use taxes, revenue from service fees and parks and recreation revenue.”
Facility revenue is being refunded to citizens who had reserved venues before the closures and the city is not receiving daily rental revenues for its gyms and recreation services, she said. “We are not sure (of) the overall revenue impact on our fourth quarter as we move into April, however, it will be decreased.”
Moreover, Etheridge said, “No one is sure how long this mandatory shutdown will last or how this may also impact financial operations going into FY 2020-21. We remain focused on providing services to our citizens while keeping our employees safe. Financial staff are also continuing to monitor both our revenues and our expenditures very closely during this unprecedented time.”
Councilman Carl Ferebee, who attended the meeting remotely, asked if there were any monies which could be used or sought in relation to the reports given by Scherer and Etheridge.
“We will absolutely look for any monies that would help or assist us during this crisis and this pandemic,” Etheridge said. “At the present time it is too soon to know the complete economic impact on our budget since many of our revenues run several months behind on the actual month with collections.”
Scherer said the North Carolina League of Municipalities has been advocating to receive aid from agencies to offset revenue shortfalls.
“That’s great,” Ferebee said. “Hopefully something can come in for the smaller cities. I see there are things for the larger cities so hopefully the smaller cities will be able to receive some of those dollars as well.”