This is a sample COVID-19 letter to employees about potential future budget and workforce impacts. The author of this message is a city manager who has requested anonymity and so all referring information has been replaced with a [note in brackets].
As we enter our fourth week of city building and facility closures, I want to provide a financial update on the COVID-19 impact. It would be an understatement to say that this global pandemic has changed the world’s economy.
We’ve also heard reports of [State]‘s shutdown resulting in [#] percent state unemployment by July. As we drill down further to [City], we see the economic impact from COVID-19 in very real terms: our favorite restaurants and bars are closed, there are long lines at the grocery stores, hotels are empty, and friends and neighbors are working from home or have seen their employers close the doors as a result of statewide Stay at Home orders. Approximately [#] percent of [City’s] small businesses are facing severe economic challenges.
These difficult images are not lost on our community or on our organization. We too closed the doors and transitioned to work from home for essential staff and stay at home pay through [date] for those who could not work remotely.
We also extended the city closures until at least [date] as we try to control the spread and flatten the curve. This was the right decision from a public health standpoint; it is saving lives.
However, it is not without financial impacts and difficult decisions. If you watched the [date] council meeting, you saw the financial update about projected loss of revenues as a result of the pandemic. At the time, the Finance Department conservatively estimated that the city would lose nearly $[amount] in revenue. During the council discussion and discussions with the business community, we now anticipate lost revenues will be significantly higher, and the pandemic will change how we operate and what level of services can be provided to our community.
This is a situation that we have been monitoring closely and weighing difficult options to ensure that the city remains a viable organization to provide essential government services during the pandemic and the economic recovery that is likely to last into 2021.
It saddens me to think about the many programs, services and community activities that will not happen this year, and it weighs heavily on my heart as I look at the potential impacts to our colleagues and their families as we adjust to new economic realities.
Earlier today, I met with the city leadership team to discuss immediate actions, such as delaying projects, canceling community events and continuing the strategic hiring freeze already in place. The situation is dire and will have significant impacts on every department.
Many of the departments began discussing options when we closed facilities and suspended operations last month. Over the next few days, directors will be submitting options that will include changes to programs, services and staffing levels.
While we do not fully know the extent of those changes, we do know they will be significant and will impact each of us and the community. Our leadership team will continue working this week and over the weekend to assess options and to make recommendations. Our intent is to share these initial decisions with you early next week.
I know this is a difficult message in an already difficult time. I want to assure you that we are making these decisions with a heavy heart, compassion and rooted in our city values to ensure we represent our dedication to you as employees and our commitment to public service. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to support our community.
With deep appreciation for you and all you do,