The City of Pullman’s finance department is estimating a 12-15 percent drop in revenue by the end of the year as a result of COVID-19.
Finance Director Mike Urban also said during Tuesday’s Pullman City Council meeting that he predicts a 10-12 percent drop in expenses.
Sales tax revenues dropped by 20 percent in April, which Urban said is hopefully the low point for sales tax so far this year. Transit revenue and building permit revenue also saw steep drops this spring compared to last year.
Urban said it is uncertain how Washington State University’s recent decision to move undergraduate classes online will affect the rest of the year’s financial outlook.
He said Whitman County in June had the state’s lowest unemployment rate of 6.1 percent.
“I think it’s testament to what we’re trying to do here as a group and continue to move things on,” Urban said. “Not just the university, but (Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories), Pullman Regional (Hospital), and the city, all the employers trying to keep staff employed during these tough, tough times.”
Still, he said, it is unclear how much of a hit the local economy will take because of unemployment benefits dollars being spent.
Urban said while Pullman has received financial assistance from the federal government, it has not received assistance from the state.
During his budget presentation, Urban credited the fire and police departments for decreasing overtime dollars as they managed expenses.
On Tuesday, the city council also held a discussion about the temporary street changes on Main Street that include a lane reduction, the addition of back-in angle parking and the addition of a bike lane on the south side of the street. The changes were made to gauge public opinion about future plans for the look and accessibility of downtown.
Most of the councilors were in favor of possibly removing the parking barriers and the new bike lane to give people more space to park.
Councilor Al Sorensen said people trying to park in the back-in angled parking spaces are often either hitting the barriers or are sticking out into the traffic lane.
Councilor Pat Wright said she has not heard any positive feedback on the new parking spaces, and Councilor Eileen Macoll said she still sees some bicyclists neglecting the bike lane and riding on the sidewalk.
The existing bike lane is temporary. Future plans for Main Street include implementing a permanent bike lane on the north side of the street.
Councilors were interested in hearing whether people would be more comfortable with the parking spaces if the barriers and bike lane are removed.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.