D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has proposed freezing the pay of city employees in order to help recover part of the city’s lost revenue stemming from the new coronavirus outbreak.
The amount of revenue lost by the District due to the pandemic is estimated to be approximately $1.5 billion over the next 18 months.
The proposal came as part of Bowser’s annual budget proposal announced at a press conference on Monday.
“While this is not the budget we expected to share earlier this year, it is still a budget that I am proud of and that our city can be proud of,” said Mayor Bowser about her Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Budget and Financial Plan she presented to the Council of the District of Columbia.
“Under the most difficult of circumstances, we crafted a balanced budget that reflects our shared values and priorities, makes significant investments in our residents, and sets the District up for an efficient recovery. I look forward to working with the Council to ensure we invest in health, opportunity, prosperity and equity for the District.”
— DC Police Union (@DCPoliceUnion) May 18, 2020
“What we have asked our employees is to work with us as the economy comes back,” Bowser said about cutting pay raises for city workers, noting that the pay freezes would be better than mass layoffs and furloughs.
The city is expecting massive revenue losses compared to pre-pandemic estimates – $722 million less for FY20 and $774 less for FY21 — because of the pandemic.
The mayor added that her budget makes important new investments in education, healthcare, housing, jobs and economic opportunity, public safety and transportation despite financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Bowser’s move has been met with criticism from the D.C. Police Union, which released a statement on the same day.
“This goes not only for unions that currently do not have a contract in place for 2021, but also for unions that do have contractual raises beginning in October 2020. This means that the city will not fulfill their agreement to provide raises, even to labor unions who have contractual raises in the upcoming fiscal year,” the statement reads.
It adds that the proposal is “alarming” but the budget has not been approved by the D.C. Council yet, so the Union has time to hold talks with council members to express their concerns about it.