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County administrator discusses potential for layoffs

Posted at 5:19 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 20:20:18-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Pima County is facing a tighter budget in the wake of the coronavirus and a stalled economy.

The County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry saying he’s hopeful a significant staff reduction won’t be necessary at this time.

“I see no threat at this point to major layoffs, but you don’t know,” said Huckelberry.

He’s predicting a possible loss of up to $25 million from state revenue sharing.

“We need to be conservative with how we budget. We have fairly large fund balances so we can move money around as needed in order to keep county operations going.”

The hit to the county is part of the economy grinding to a halt during the coronavirus pandemic. Something Huckelberry says will will likely continue until the state gets a better handle on the crisis.

“To date we’ve tested under 7,000 people for a county of a million,” said the county’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia.

Supervisors asked Dr. Garcia why timely contact tracing isn’t being done.

People getting tested aren’t getting results until two to fourteen days later.

“You focus on an important piece that is not working particularly well in the state,” said Garcia.

Huckelberry says Arizona needs more widespread testing, sufficient personal protective equipment and timely contract tracing before the economy will be re-opened. until then budget discussions will likely be grim.

“We really talk about four areas that need to be in place before we relax standards and we really don’t meet any of them except for sufficient hospital and medical capacity,” said Huckleberry.

One piece of good news for the county is funding from property taxes. Huckleberry says property values are projected to hold steady at least through the rest of the year.