EDMONDS — With the city facing an estimated $300,000 budget deficit, Mayor Mike Cooper has ordered a hiring freeze for the rest of the year.
The freeze only affects positions paid for from the city’s general fund. Positions funded through other sources, such as the utility fund, will be filled.
There is one police officer position that the city is considering holding open. Cooper estimates that in July there may be up to three more officer positions open. He said that he is evaluating the cost of overtime versus the savings gleaned by not filling the jobs before he makes firm decisions.
Five remaining positions are being held open — development services director, a position that has gone unfilled for two years; two seasonal parks department employees; a custodian; and an assistant in the city clerk’s office, a new position.
In a memo to the City Council and city directors and managers, Cooper explained that the decision came on the heels of the first-quarter financial report and the Edmonds Public Facilities District’s need for $83,000 to back up bonds secured by the city.
“The goal was to reduce the budget by 1 percent, or $300,000,” Cooper said. “I am concerned about the long-term impact. I would rather do this now, rather than lay people off later.”
People will see lower levels of service in a few key areas, Cooper said. In the police department, there could be less time to follow up on crimes. At the city’s parks and facilities, including City Hall and the Frances Anderson Center, fewer staff will be available to empty trash bins and clean restrooms.
Any effects on the two other frozen positions will be felt down the road, Cooper said.
Holding open the city clerk’s assistant position will stall online access of public records. The development services director position is not an immediate problem, because there’s been a drop in permit applications. But leaving the job open will hamper getting code revisions and rewrites in motion.