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Ridgefield braces for revenue hit

The city of Ridgefield is projecting a general-fund revenue loss of 17 percent from the COVID-19 outbreak.

The $1.42 million in potential losses stems mainly from sharp drops in building fee and sales tax revenue. The city also expects a 10 percent delinquency in property tax payments.

On May 14, the city council is expected to approve $941,250 in budget cuts and spending postponements to negate most of the losses.

City officials are stressing, though, that reserves are healthy and the cuts will not have a major impact on services.

“I know none of us were expecting that we would have a pandemic this year, but we have put money away for a recession at some point, because they do happen,” Ridgefield Finance Director Kirk Johnson told city councilors during an April 23 meeting.

Revenue from building fees is expected to drop by $246,200. The statewide stay-at-home order halted construction deemed non-essential, which correspondingly reduced the fees the rapidly growing city can expect to receive.

Mayor Don Stose said that about 15 to 20 new businesses were expected to open in Ridgefield this year. He expressed optimism that those businesses will still move in once construction resumes at a normal level, though many may need to wait until 2021.

“Its really hard to tell,” Stose said. “It just depends on how soon we can get ramped back up on normal business.”

Other areas of revenue loss include $786,000 in sales taxes and $247,600 in land use, engineering and plan check fees.

Among the cuts and postponements are several public works projects and hiring plans. Hiring for a small number of positions within the city Community Development department, for example, will be postponed.

Stose said the projects that have been postponed largely involve maintenance, while larger projects and construction should return after the delay. City officials also plan to monitor revenue losses and expense changes as the COVID-19 situation develops.

“We’re just sad to see this road block right now,” Stose said. “Construction will get going, and we’ll be full speed ahead.”


Source: https://www.columbian.com

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