No staff reductions, but most Lake Travis-Westlake cities are prepping for what COVID-19 might do to budgets

The conversations have begun among city officials in the Lake Travis-Westlake area: What steps are needed to help assuage looming budgetary damage brought about by the COVID-19 crisis? (Illustration by Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)
The conversations have begun among city officials in the Lake Travis-Westlake area: What steps are needed to help assuage looming budgetary damage brought about by the COVID-19 crisis? (Illustration by Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)

The conversations have begun among city officials in the Lake Travis-Westlake area: What steps are needed to help assuage looming budgetary damage brought about by the COVID-19 crisis? (Illustration by Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)

The question looms among city officials in the Lake Travis-Westlake area: What steps are needed to help assuage potential budgetary damage brought about by the COVID-19 crisis?

So far, area officials have reported no layoffs have taken place, nor are staff reductions being considered, but measures are already underway to, as much as possible, slow city coffers from being drained too quickly.

“We already run a tight ship in Rollingwood and do not plan to lay off employees,” Rollingwood City Administrator Amber Lewis said. “Besides police with nine employees and public works with three employees, our departments consist of one employee.”

Lewis said all city employees are considered essential and are critical to ensuring continued operation during the public health emergency.


“That said, we are mindful and aware that this is a difficult time for everybody,” she said. “In response to this difficult time, effective immediately, we will be freezing spending at the city.”


Going forward, only those expenditures considered essential will be approved, according to Lewis, and employee travel and training will be restricted to only that which is essential.

Not every city has begun budgetary planning with regard to COVID-19 fallout. Lakeway Communications Director Jarrod Wise said at this time, there have been no layoffs, nor are there plans for staff reductions or other budgetary restrictions.

In West Lake Hills, no layoffs or staff reductions are under consideration, but a
mid-fiscal year budget amendment will be considered by council as a part of regular business, according to Travis Askey, West Lake Hills city administrator.

“If necessary, adjustments specific to the coronavirus impact will be included,” Askey said.

Bee Cave officials have also not laid off any employees off and are not considering city staff reductions, but City Council members have already made and are planning to make other budgetary considerations.

“The one thing we’ve looked at doing is pausing capital projects for a bit,” Bee Cave City Manager Clint Garza said.

During the March 24 Bee Cave City Council meeting, officials voted to postpone execution of a contract to overhaul City Hall in the Hill Country Galleria that, on the low end, would have run about $200,000.

"I don't think we should be spending any money we don't have to spend at this time," Council Member Kara King said during that meeting, but she added that she would like to revisit the item once Bee Cave's financial future is clearer.
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018. From there he became a dual-market editor for Community Impact's New Braunfels and San Marcos-Buda-Kyle editions. Brian is now a senior editor for the company's flagship papers, the Round Rock and Pflugerville-Hutto editions.