Predicting pandemic budget hit, Aurora furloughing hundreds of temporary workers

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AURORA | Facing a possible $25 million shortfall because of the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Aurora announced Wednesday it’s furloughing 576 employees. 

None of those furloughs are full-time or part-time staff, according to the city. They’re composed of mostly of seasonal, contingent and temporary workers. 

The furloughs take effect April 25. Impacted staff will be paid normally until then, according to the city. 

The city does not yet have a set date for when those furloughs end.

“Our employees are at the core of our mission to serve our residents, and it was a very difficult decision to have to resort to any measures that directly impact them,” Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said. “We proceeded with furloughs when our budget forecasts made it clear we had no other choice, and our hope is that the enhanced unemployment benefits announced under the CARES Act will provide them with financial stability until we can make further decisions about restoring our city services and bringing employees back to work. My heart goes out to all of our employees affected by this.”

Nearly a month ago the city was hopeful that it wouldn’t have to impose furloughs on anybody working for the city. Instead, the city issued a hiring freeze, a move city staff said could save about $6 million. 

Travel and conference attendance has also been temporarily cut to save money. The city said in a news release that many capital projects have also been delayed. 

Aurora faces a 6 percent shortfall in the general budget this year as sales across the city are significantly down. The city relies heavily on sales tax to operate. That’s been hit hard amid the pandemic as stores close to the public and dine-in restaurants have been ordered to only offer take-out.

“We are navigating through an unprecedented time right now and understand the tremendous impacts that COVID-19 has had on our residents, our businesses, our city and our world,” Twombly said in the statement. “As a city, we provide services and resources that our residents depend on, and we are committed to serving them through this crisis and beyond. Our staff are continually evaluating the financial projections and finding ways to minimize the effects of the shortfall on our residents and our employees.”