For almost the entire past year, government entities across Wyoming have been wrestling with budget shortfalls. Now, in many cases, it appears those situations might not be as dire as predicted.
The City of Cody recently approved a 2.5% merit boost for city employees. We are pleased they are able to provide the raise.
We are very pleased they practiced fiscal conservatism with the budget. The city was able to provide the raises because the city’s cash balance had improved.
Several factors contributed to the improved budget situation.
Because of several COVID-19 cases and some vacant positions not being filled for lengthy periods, the city operated in a short-staffed situation several times which cut expenses.
Secondly, the city received more than a million dollars in CARES Act funds.
Two lessons, maybe more, could be gleaned from this.
One: The city was able to function on fewer employee hours. There very well could be areas that could handle staff reductions and still get the job done.
Two: The CARES Act money was a huge lift to the budget. That comes with a reminder; those funds won’t be there next year.
City employees needed a raise and city council members did the right thing in granting raises.
However, council members should recognize city government may be able to operate on fewer employee hours currently on the payroll and get prepared for next year’s budget when the CARES Act funds have dried up.
Not only the city, but Park County commissioners and school district trustees have their own budget issues and could take a hard look at how the City of Cody handled the situation.
Even in tough times, governments have to operate. We urge them to handle budgets conservatively.