Nevada County governments poised to adjust budgets |

Nevada County governments poised to adjust budgets

John Orona
Staff Writer

By the numbers

As of April 15

Number of COVID-19 cases in Nevada County: 34

Number in western county: 10

Number in eastern county: 24

Number of deaths: 1

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During its meeting this week, the Grass Valley City Council approved a proclamation of financial emergency, recognizing the economic impact COVID-19 has had on the city and the need to freeze seven city positions and lay off four others.

The proclamation, adopted Tuesday, would help the city in applying for federal and state funding, should it become available. The frozen positions include a maintenance worker, city clerk, mechanic, police officer and three firefighters. An assistant engineer, general ledger accountant, senior accountant and senior administrative clerk were laid off.

According to Grass Valley Mayor Lisa Swarthout, the move is an attempt to ensure the city is able to continue providing essential services after the city’s budget update projected it would lose out on more than $900,000 in revenue over the next two fiscal years.

“Because we’re going to take such a big financial hit with the loss of the sales tax and tax from the hotels, which are the biggest contributors to our general fund, we have to be prepared for what’s going to happen,” Swarthout said Friday.

While other local governments are not in at the stage of financial emergency, they are preparing for the impacts of COVID-19 and making adjustments.

According to Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum, despite the city’s tight budget, she’s optimistic about its ability to survive the pandemic’s economic consequences.

“I have no doubt we’ll see this through,” Senum said. “We were conservative in our budgeting and we’re going to be OK for this year.”

Senum said the city is prepared to make more changes, if necessary, but the small-scale operation of the city has helped it so far by keeping expenses down and not relying too much on variable revenue.

“I think we have some options to fill the gaps if we need to, so I’m actually quite positive despite how horrific I know it’s been for some,” she said.

Nevada County Financial Officer Martin Polt said the county is prepared to make both short- and long-term changes, but isn’t rushing into anything until more data is available.

“We’re trying to be thoughtful about how we approach this,” Polt said. “Because we are in good financial shape, we don’t want to be reactionary.”

According to Polt, the county will be looking at how diminished funding sources like sales tax could affect areas like the transit department immediately, as well as how the county will be affected in the longer term by property tax valuations.

More information will be known when March tax collection data is available in May, Polt said.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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