Pandemic shutdown forces commission to cut budgets, freeze hiring

Montgomery County Commission cuts budget, freezes hiring

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The economic fallout from the coronavirus shutdown continues to unfold.

Thursday morning, the Montgomery County Commission confirmed it has tightened its belt by implementing a hiring freeze and ordering across-the-board budget cuts, among other actions.

Commission Vice Chair Ronda Walker said the decision was made because the county’s budget has taken a hit in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In addition to the hiring freeze, all county departments must cut their current budget by 10 percent.

“We have halted all county travel. We have mandated approval for any non-essential spending. We suspended public access to all county buildings,” Walker stated.

Despite these measures, thought, Walker said the county continues to provide all basic services.

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“People might not realize what a popular destination Montgomery, Alabama, is for corporations, conventions, groups coming here all the time,” Walker said. “Our hotels stay full, and that’s one of our main sources of revenue.”

Additionally, as people continue to follow Gov. Kay Ivey’s stay at home order or avoid traveling into the state, other major sources of revenue are impacted. Those include shopping, which brings in sales taxes. Fewer travelers means few stops at the gas station, which has resulted in a significant downturn in gas tax revenues.

“Because of all of those reasons,” Walker said, “Montgomery County stands to lose millions of dollars in revenue this fiscal year.”

Walker said the commission will consider reopening to the public if Ivey allows her order to expire at the end of the month. But that won’t instantly turn things around.

“The remainder of the measures will remain in place until we know an end date for quarantine and see our financials for April/May/June,” Walker said, “but I imagine these internal measures will remain in place for the foreseeable future.”

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