Budget crunch, potential layoffs in Little Rock, some say ‘it will not be good’

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The weather this week is likely mirroring how dozens of people are feeling across the City of Little Rock.

“It will not be good at all,” says Little Rock resident Tameshia Nellums.

At least 48 city jobs, most in the Parks and Recreation Department, are on the chopping block. Some positions are filled, others are vacant.

“You have all these people who do not have jobs,” says Nellums.

Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. proposes cutting The Chamber of Commerce funding in half to $150,000.

Some Little Rock Board of Directors expressed serious concerns during Tuesday night’s meeting that went late into the night.

“We are going to go cut money from the Chamber, so they don’t have the facilities or the funding to go get new business in a city that needs business,” said Little Rock City Director Dr. Dean Kumpuris on Tuesday.

Some people who live in the city agree.

“We definitely want to attract other businesses because that’s how our city will grow in a positive aspect,” says resident Jenna Caple.

The city has proposed cutting half ($500,000) of its expenditures to the Museum of Discovery, reclassify a portion of Rock Region Metro to Street Fund and reduce the Downtown Partnership expenditures from $195,000 to $145,000.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. said Tuesday the amended budget presentation is to get the city’s financial situation back on track.

“[When I] walked in the door with a $7.3 million budget deficit, you have to address it. As a former banker, I cannot look at those types of exploding deficits and not address it, to protect and to advance the long-term future of the citizens of Little Rock and the City of Little Rock government services,” said Mayor Scott earlier this week.

Two golf courses would close, the zoo would be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays from November-March.

“Zoo charges, gate fees are already pretty high for a family to attend the zoo,” said Little Rock Finance Director Sarah Lenehan on Tuesday.

The biggest cuts appear to be in the city’s Park and Recreation Department.

“If you get into the areas of Parks and Recreation and golf and the zoo, we’re cutting nearly a million dollars out of our support, what I call our quality of life services and I think that’s a decision that could have consequences,” said Little Rock City Director Gene Fortson during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Mayor Scott said Tuesday the proposed amended budget is not because of his push for additional police officers and/or body cameras. He says he will find a way to fund body cameras, which he says is already in the process.

Some people in Little Rock would like the City’s top officials to trim back themselves.

Documents show Mayor Scott is making $160,000 a year while the City Manager makes about $190,000.

“That seems exorbitant. If you look at the median income of the city or the county, that’s probably three or four times above that,” says Little Rock homeowner Tim Eubanks.

The City is waiting for the Assistant City Manager to retire which would free money up to hire the Mayor’s next Chief of Staff.

Documents show the Assistant City Manager is making more than $150,000 as of 2018.

Nothing is set in stone yet until the Board of Directors approves the budget amendment.

“You all will have to do a lot of convincing for me over the next week for me to vote on [this],” said Director Kumpuris during Tuesday night’s meeting.

There is a policy in effect that allows the most senior City employees that are cut to look within their department at the next lower-level position and potentially bump someone out.

Click here to view the full proposed budget amendment.

The board will meet again on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

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