Del Mar council approves layoffs, other budget cuts

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

The Del Mar City Council approved city employee layoffs and a series of other budget cuts during a June 17 meeting in response to revenue losses stemming from COVID-19 pandemic.

The city will also use its general fund contingency and a loan from Measure Q funds to split the cost of the remaining shortfall of approximately $640,000.

Employee layoffs were approved for the positions of deputy public works director, assistant planner II, facilities coordinator, park ranger, part-time associate planner II, and the position of part-time law enforcement manager has been eliminated by attrition. Part-time administrative employees and paid interns will also be laid off. Two positions will be furloughed by 50%.

Total reductions in employee expenditures, which also includes pay freezes, account for about one-fourth of the $4 million in approved reductions to offset projected losses in revenue.

The city will also reduce its spending on a communications consultant from $40,000 to a maximum of $20,000 and cut the workload to content related to COVID-19 and other items.

Other potential cuts to employee compensation could be considered if the recovery is slower than anticipated.

“If things have not gotten better and we’re still in trouble it will be incumbent upon all of us to look at more cuts,” Del Mar City Councilman Dwight Worden said.

Those cuts, if necessary, could include capping the 1% transient occupancy tax allocation to the nonprofit Del Mar Village Association at $50,000 in the upcoming fiscal year, reducing part-time lifeguard staffing by 50%, and eliminating all funding for employee training and education.

Other budget reductions approved during the June 17 meeting include approximately $550,000 in operating costs, $650,000 in capital improvements and $400,000 in special projects.

Council members are also going to contact committee chairs to see if they will be able to resume their meetings without city staff support, except for tasks such as posting agendas and minutes. Due to staff cutbacks caused by COVID-19, city meetings have been on hold except for City Council, Finance Committee, Design Review Board and Planning Commission.

Del Mar City Councilman Dave Druker said even if the economy recovers relatively quickly, the city’s financial recovery will be slowed by lack of revenue from the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which likely won’t hold large events until 2021.

“We are going to be in a two-year period before we get out of this hole,” Druker said.