City of Little Rock proposes layoffs, closure of golf courses and impact on zoo to deal with deficit

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Little Rock Board of Directors heard two different proposals to amend the 2019 budget late into Tuesday night.

The board was presented with two different options from the city’s finance department. ‘Option A’ would decrease the city expenditures by more than $5 million. The other, ‘Option B’, had even more cuts, decreasing expenditures by about $7 million.

Option A includes cutting 48 positions, some of which are currently vacant. Option B would eliminate 80 positions, some of which are currently vacant. In both options, the biggest blow appears to be to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, with dozens of jobs on the line.

With the major impact affecting the city’s parks, many board members expressed concerns about parks becoming neglected.

“As an enjoyer of our parks, already being understaffed, I’m concerned about Little Rock as a city in a park,” says Little Rock City Director Capi Peck.

Option A shows two of the four golf courses in the city would close and be repurposed. The Little Rock Zoo would be forced to reduce special events, marketing and contract expenditures. The presentation shows the zoo’s operating expenditures would be forced to reduce by closing to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between November 1-March 1. In Option B, there is a risk of closing some of the zoo’s exhibits which could cause the zoo to lose its accreditation.

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, reduce the Downtown Partnership expenditures from $195,000 to $145,000.

Option A includes cutting five of the 10 Neighborhood Resource Coordinators. Each center would remain open. Hours of operation and programs offered at the Stephens Community Center could be reduced, along with electricity usage at the West-Central Community Center. Some custodial services at the community centers would be outsourced.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. says 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,” says Mayor Scott.

Mayor Scott says 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.

The Board of Directors are scheduled to vote on the issue during the May 14 agenda meeting. If the Board approves the proposed amended budget, layoffs could be implemented in July.

Click here to view the entire proposal.

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