Germantown addresses layoffs, other suburbs make minor adjustments

By Updated: March 31, 2020 9:46 AM CT | Published: March 30, 2020 6:18 PM CT

Germantown leaders discussed and vetted potential layoffs for two weeks before deciding to lay off all 209 part-time city workers, City Administrator Patrick Lawton said Monday, March 30.

The city informed those affected by letter last Friday, March 27.


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“No revenue was coming in” from the various enterprise funds, Lawton said in explaining the decision. He said that fact put a burden on the city’s general fund.

While the effects of the spreading pandemic are affecting all of Shelby County’s suburban municipalities one way or another, Germantown is the only that has taken the step of laying off workers. 

The move means the likely elimination of some positions, and those that will be refilled after the pandemic passes will be filled through an application process, according to the city’s letter to affected workers. There are no guarantees those previously in those slots will get their jobs back.

The action affects crossing guards, and 90% of the employees laid off worked for the Germantown Athletic Club or the Parks and Recreation department. 

GAC closed two weeks ago. Members fees were prorated through the end of the month, according to an email. Members who paid the annual fee will get time added to when their membership was set to expire. Those who paid monthly will not be billed until the club reopens.


Germantown lays off all part-time city employees


Some trainers are sharing their workouts on YouTube. The city said 189 of the city employees laid off worked for GAC.

Parks are mostly closed and after-school programming was canceled due to school closures. 

<strong>Patrick Lawton</strong>

Patrick Lawton

“There’s no off-setting revenue to cover those expenses, and that would have fallen on general fund,” Lawton said, noting it would create an additional burden on taxpayers.

Some additional measures will be taken, but Lawton declined to address specifics. He hinted at future decisions affecting employees in a press release.

“This is likely the first of many very difficult personnel decisions that we will have to make in the coming weeks,” Lawton said in the release.

Lawton said the city is in the middle of planning and looking to “manage resources” as it balances the budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.


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“All of our plans and assumptions are essentially out the window,” he said.

With stores closed, the city is facing a loss of expected sales tax revenue. For now, the suburb has stopped spending on infrastructure replacements and capital through at least June 30, the end of the 2019-20 budget cycle.

“We have to deliver services to our residents, and that’s first and foremost,” Lawton said.

Some city staff members are working from home and have been since March 18.

“We are in compliance with social distancing people,” he said. “People who can work from home are.”

Here is what other suburbs had to say:

Arlington

Arlington has made minor adjustments, according to Town Administrator Cathy Durant. No staff has been laid off or furloughed. Additionally, she said the town does not need to look at significantly modifying operations to cut costs. Parks, the senior center and library are closed.


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“We are working with a modified staff and are working from home as much as possible,” she said, noting the measure went into effect March 18. “Fire (services) is essential and has not modified staffing at this point. Public Works, Sewer and Administration are all critical but able to perform tasks remotely, work solitary and communicate on site from a distance.”

While public buildings are closed, staff is still able to assist customers.

Bartlett  

Bartlett has about 500 employees.

“We are not currently furloughing anybody,” Mayor Keith McDonald said.

Essential staff is working in the office, but a number of employees are working from home.


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“This thing is changing so fast, the pace of it. You make the best decision you can,” he said.

The city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen will only have one meeting in April and has a 4 p.m. teleconference work session next week.

Collierville

Collierville staff is still working from the office. Town Administrator James Lewellen told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen he did not want to send employees home yet.

The town is looking at adjusting its budget. The town projects modest sales tax revenue and wants to delay votes on proposed development.


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The only adjustment Collierville has made is that the recycling facility is closed due to a reduction in staff. Recyclables residents place at the curb will be taken to the landfill.

Lakeland

City Manager Shane Horn said there were no planned layoffs at this time but staff is on a rotating schedule.


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Half of the staff works alternating days on site and public works sends half its staff to the field at a time.

Millington

Millington has not laid off any employees, according to City Manager Ed Haley. The suburb’s four part-time employees are essential staff and will continue to work.


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“There is no need for our employees to work from home at this time,” Haley said. “We have also suspended all hiring and travel unless it is a justifiable need.”

Haley sad the city wants to provide services while also following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and trying to steer clear of those coughing or struggling to breathe.

“We are praying that this pandemic will end soon,” he said.

Topics

Arlington Bartlett Collierville Germantown City of Lakeland millington
Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren  is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis.  She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.


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