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Coronavirus In Minnesota: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey Addresses Budget Freezes In Letter To City Employees

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey sent an email to city employees Tuesday about the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Frey began his message by thanking Minneapolis employees for working hard over the past couple weeks during the pandemic.

"I have truly been inspired by how each of you has stepped up," Frey said.

He says that as the COVID-19 crisis progresses, the city is gaining a better understanding of the emerging economic challenges.

"Two short weeks ago Finance & Property Services (FPS) staff gave an update to the City Council Ways & Means Committee which projected a potential loss of revenues across all City funds in the $10s to $100s of millions for this year," Frey said. "We now estimate revenue losses will be between $100 million and $200 million for 2020."

He says the negative impact on our local and national economy will be felt long after our public life returns to normal. But he says "budgetary deficits for 2020 and for 2021, though, are not a given."

Frey believes that if the city take quick and decisive action, they can weather this storm.

"Any dollars we do not spend today directly impact our ability to mitigate staffing reductions later this year, and into the future," Frey said.

He says the public health response to COVID-19 demands we take aggressive action to flatten the public health curve by effectively implementing social distancing, ensuring our health care system is prepared to respond. And Frey says he thinks the same logic holds with respect to the city's financial response to the outbreak.

The mayor has directed Minneapolis staff to evaluate, negotiate and implement some cost containment measures that he believes will help keep hundreds of staff employed for as long as possible, including hiring freezes, wage freezes, freezes of discretionary expense, and the delay large purchases.

"I can commit to all of you that I will do everything I can to preserve our workforce through this crisis – and I'm going to need your help," Frey said.

The mayor says the choices the city makes today may not be easy, but in so doing they are putting everyone in the best position to serve Minneapolis well into the future.

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