NewsPinellas County


City, county offices feeling financial fallout from the pandemic

Posted at 3:58 PM, Jul 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-12 18:16:07-04

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Everyone is feeling the pain of COVID-19 whether you have it or not.

“It’s really sad,” said Dunedin’s mayor Julie Ward Bujlaski.

Government employees are the latest to be impacted, especially those in the Tampa Bay area.

“Cities may not be giving their employees raises, or they may be reduced,” Mayor Bujlaski said. “It’s going to affect everybody, of course, that’s our residents.”

Mayor Bujlaski and I talked about that during our interview about the big-budget construction projects she and the city council have decided to postpone, cancel or downsize — like the new city hall complex — due to COVID-19.

“It’s not a good situation for anyone.”

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Dunedin city leaders discuss postponing several construction projects due to COVID-19

Dunedin, like the other Pinellas County cities, relies on the Penny for Pinellas tax to fund the construction projects. But Bujlaski said next year, “the Penny for Pinellas fund is going to be dropping significantly, as well as commercial property values. Next year is when this will really hurt us.”

Several cities and counties have already started furloughs and laying employees off. Polk County’s Clerk of Court sent out a press release last week announcing she had to let 20 employees go, furlough more than 200, implement a job freeze and eliminate 21 positions.

All court offices and branch locations will close at 4 p.m. from Monday to Thursday. They will all be closed on Friday. ABC Action News is working to get more details on how — or if— that will impact trials and weekend arraignments.

Tampa Bay area leaders are warning locals, even when the virus is under control or gone, the financial impact will still be a problem.

Mayor Bujlaski said their main priority “if we do have money is trying to invest it in ways the can assist our residents and our businesses..”