AUSTIN, Texas - A lot has changed in Hutto because of the COVID-19 outbreak. On Friday, Stacy Schmitt Assistant to Hutto's City Manager said that Hutto City Council has made one thing clear; They are not making any changes to the police department.
"There will be no layoffs for the police department nor any other employees in the city of Hutto," said Schmitt.
Concerns about cutbacks in public safety were raised by the Texas Municipal Police Association. Sounding the alarm was about putting public pressure on the city council, according to Dick Brock, a field representative with the association.
"But the last thing you want to attack or minimize is public safety, and we wanted to make sure the citizens know that information," said Brock.
In a Thursday news release, the association speculated that city council may lay-off police in order to address budget problems. That assumption was based on a comment made Monday by a councilmember - who reportedly said the city can no longer afford to be the safest city in Texas and could have to 'settle' for 'top 30.'
"And that alarmed all of our officers in Hutto ... they've got a tough job as it is, and it got tougher with COVID-19 and the stress of worrying if they had a job the next day or not sort of put it over the edge," said Brock.
The city last month did layoff nearly 50 employees. Thursday night the council revisited that and it was decided to bring back one of the two animal control officers that had been let go at that time.
"City staff has already really dug into our financial situation, what it is now and what the projections are and especially what the impact is of this current pandemic crisis is on our financials, in regards to sales tax revenue, property tax revenue, and all of the implications into our financial health going forward," said Schmitt.
The council is expected to continue the budget impact discussion during its next meeting.
"So we are going to be keeping a very close watch during that council meeting too," said Brock.
City officials did say some additional belt-tightening may be necessary, but there will be no more layoffs. Thursday night and auditing firm was hired to do a top to bottom review of city finances. The forensic audit was set in motion before the outbreak hit.
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