NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Concerns are shifting in the City of North Charleston as the economic effects of COVID-19 take their toll. Mayor Summey says the decision to lay off a number of city employees was difficult but necessary.
“I’ve been mayor for well, October will be 26 years. This is by far the toughest decision I’ve had to make in those 26 years,” says Summey.
Data shows over half of North Charleston’s budget is funded by sales tax and hotel revenue. With COVID-19 causing a 67% decrease in travel to the city; cuts needed to be made to stay afloat.
“It’s been a hard hit and we will make it work. We will continue to provide the basic services. We will not do any cuts on police, fire, all those types of things,” he says.
Out of the job cuts, over 150 are part-time positions, 15 are full-time and 51 are unfilled positions (now frozen). The mayor says a majority of these positions were related to public services currently not in service to the city.
Summey says he looked at different areas of the budget to cut back on; but ultimately decided that removing these jobs would effect the least amount of people. Without these positions, the city will save roughly $6.8 million towards the yearly budget.
“I’ve lost a lot of sleep over this. But, it’s my job. And my job is to provide the greatest level of services that we can to the citizens of the city,” says Summey.
Moving forward, the city plans to reassess the budget in January of 2021. Mayor Summey says that if the city can get back to a place of economic stability; he hopes to re-hire those who lost their jobs in this difficult time.