Board raises questions, concerns about $7M budget deficit and proposed layoffs

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Little Board of Directors voted to postpone a vote on the city’s proposed budget amendment. 

During Tuesday’s meeting, the city presented a revised plan that would help with what Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. calls a more than $7 million deficit. 

The city says the cuts to the Chamber of Commerce budget would be reduced to $50,000 and the Museum of Discovery would be cut $19,000. The Downtown Partnership faces the same budget cuts as presented last week. 

The city says 44 jobs would be on the chopping block instead of the proposed 48. Right now, 31 of the 44 jobs are filled and most of the job cuts will come from the Parks and Recreation Department. 

The zoo would also be impacted. It would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday between November-March.

Two golf courses would close or what the city calls re-purposed. They haven’t said which golf courses would be impacted. 

Little Rock City Director Capi Peck expressed concern about the city being able to keep the parks up to what citizens expect. 

“Can you tell me in your professional opinion that these won’t be impacted, that you will be able to maintain them and people will be happy except those losing their job, possibly,” asked Peck.

Little Rock Parks and Recreation Director John Eckart says there shouldn’t be a problem.

“I do feel we will be able to maintain at this level if we can outsource, if we can add that money back to outsource those specific areas,” says Eckart. 

While many city departments could feel the impact city directors brought into question the restructuring of city hall. 

When the city’s Assistant City Manager, who’s making more than $150,000, retires it would free up money for the Mayor to hire a Chief of Staff. 

“Mayor, it strikes me as we are talking about removing positions and budget cuts — is having a Chief of Staff and adding that position to your staff necessary,” said Director Hines. 

The mayor replied saying it was necessary. 

“The answer to that question is yes. The mayor has always had a Chief of Staff, the mayor has always had an Executive Assistant so the answer to that question is yes. As you know I’m the first mayor to fall and adhere to the 2007 ordinance being the Chief Executive Officer and having all the department directors report to the Mayor,” said Mayor Scott. 

The mayor announced he will be holding off on his push to hire 20 additional police officers this year. Mayor Scott says body cameras will likely come from the 2020 budget. 

The board will meet again to discuss the budget on May 28th. 

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