Renton City Hall. File photo

Renton City Hall. File photo

Renton cuts costs, furloughs staff due to COVID-19

City is trying to recover some of the nearly $22.5 million it will lose in revenue from shutdown.

Renton is trying to recover a portion of the estimated $22.5 million in revenue that it’s losing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city is using a series of partial furloughs and is exploring an incentive program that gives long-term employees health insurance for 18 months at no cost if they quit.

Mayor Armondo Pavone commented on the work to reduce expenses in his May 19 COVID-19 Newsletter, thanking the employees that have had to furlough hours.

“Implementing the program was through the combined efforts of our city administrators and affiliated unions,” Pavone said in a newsletter. “During this time of budget tightening across the city, it’s a real win-win for those involved.”

About 200 employees are working on reduced hours until July 25, with 10 percent to 50 percent of their hours cut while retaining benefits to qualify for the Shared Work Program— a state employment security division program that fills the gap in hours with unemployment pay and the $600 weekly bonus from the CARES Act. The furloughs will save the city an estimated $642,000. Police officers are not affected.

The city is reducing discretionary spending and overtime, delaying hiring for vacant positions and eliminating travel and training expenses. City departments identified capital projects to be cancelled or delayed, saving a $3.9 million. As of this posting, the Reporter is tracking down which projects these cuts will affect.

The city’s equipment purchases are being postponed, saving $1.2 million. Renton is also taking $3.6 million in fund reserves and using it to supplement the 2020 budget.

The separation incentive program allows employees who have worked with the city for at least two years to leave their position, but retain 18 months of COBRA healthcare — commonly offered to workers who lose their health benefits — at no cost. Because it would be a voluntary separation, that employee would not receive unemployment benefits. The city would then hold the positions vacant to save money.

The separation incentive has not been approved yet. It will be brought to Renton City Council for approval on June 1.

Council President Ruth Pérez said it has been incredible how city employees have responded in this time of crisis, first working from home and now participating in the shared work program while keeping consistent customer service.

“I thank every city employee for their willingness to step in and help to reduce expenses. I’m extremely proud of them and I really appreciate their commitment to keep providing a high level of service for our residents during this pandemic,” Pérez said.

The city will also receive federal aid from the CARES Act for $3.14 million, King County Economic Development Relief Program at $165,890, and be able to support the community with block grants for business recovery at $450,000.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Closures on I-5 in SeaTac for Federal Way Link construction

Along southbound lanes over three weeks

King County assessor wants Legislature to fix laws to help small businesses

Changes needed because of COVID-19 impact on commercial properties

Renton High School seniors came to the Renton protest still in their cap and gown from the drive-thru graduation ceremony, Monday, June 1. Photo by Haley Ausbun.
Renton youth rally at protest in front of city hall

Rentonites joined protesters around the nation to say “Black lives matter”

Up in the air, these two rescue dogs did just fine as they made their way from La Paz, Mexico, to Renton, Washington. Photo courtesy of Pilots N Paws
Dog rescuers overcome pandemic’s limitations to bring a puppy to Renton

Labrador Retriever-Beagle mix makes 2,100-mile journey from Mexico.

King County could be in Phase 2 in two weeks

The county is also hoping the state lets them reopen several businesses by Friday.

Farmers Market opening postponed to June 9

The market will open one week later than planned

From the Renton Reporter archives.
Some Renton businesses see property damage amid looting reports Sunday

Police say no arrests were made; Walmart is open after being broken into Sunday night.

Looters break into 26 Tukwila businesses Sunday night; 9 arrests made

‘What happened in Tukwila was not a protest, it was coordinated looting,’ police say

South King County area police respond to Seattle protests

The responding officers are members of the multi-agency Valley Civil Disturbance Unit, officials say.

Most Read