I hope this email finds you well and healthy. I wanted to share some highlights from May, which turned out to be a busy month for Norfolk City Council.
We passed the FY2021 budget on May 19. The budget is quite austere as we had to bridge an anticipated $40M revenue shortfall because of the economic crisis. The budget takes into account what we can afford at the start of the fiscal year beginning July 1. As we come to realize our revenues between July – December, we will determine what services we can provide and facilities we will open in the second half of the year.
For instance, after July 1, we will slowly re-open the three anchor branch libraries (Slover, Pretlow, Jordan-Newby) and 6 recreation centers (East Ocean View, Norview, Lambert’s Point, Berkley, Huntersville and Norfolk Fitness and Wellness Center). Opening additional libraries and recreation centers will be budget dependent.
Please know that this budget has had a significant impact on our personnel. We have furloughed 590 part-time employees, 89 full-time employees and will not fill 104 vacant positions. I don’t take this last comment on personnel lightly. These 679 furloughed employees will face hardship and sacrifice. These are real people and not just numbers. I made that comment during a city council budget work session and before the end of the meeting, one of the furloughed employees had emailed me to say “ thank you” for acknowledging that this number represents people – not just a number.
How are we trying to help business and restaurants open safely? In addition to the extraordinary outreach and support of Norfolk Economic Development, the city compiled a boots on the ground team to provide guidance to small business owners, such as restaurants, on how they could utilize outdoor space to serve customers safely. A team of people approached restaurant owners and provided toolkits and guidelines on how they could safely reopen; helped build parklets in parking lots and parking spaces to accommodate outdoor seating; and provided other support. You might have noticed that Boush Street has parking lanes. This allows customers to park on Boush and walk one block to Granby and enjoy outdoor dining – seating that is now located in the parking spots on Granby Street. Norfolk quickly jumped into action to help these businesses open safely enabling them to begin earning revenue.
Norfolk City Council has been meeting regularly throughout the pandemic via virtual meetings. See the picture below of a screen shot of my view of our virtual meetings. And, I have participated in many virtual meetings with civic leagues, task forces and commissions.
And, finally, I am beyond sad by the unrest in our country. I believe in equality, social justice, black lives matter, and we should embrace and celebrate diversity in all of its forms. The death of George Floyd is appalling. I am thankful for the peaceful protests in Norfolk as they are making a strong statement while respecting our community.
Please stay well. Stay positive. Stay strong.
Virtual City Council Meeting
Grady…My lap dog