The layoffs impacted multiple city departments, including animal control and the tourism division.
Schmitt said in an email to Community Impact Newspaper that the city does not anticipate additional layoffs at this time.
“Our city is being challenged during this pandemic, and the city is facing a significant impact to the financial health of the city,” Schmitt said in the email. “During a time of crisis, business slows, and therefore, revenue slows.”
Schmitt added: “The unfortunate decision to have layoffs was a difficult one, but in order for the city to stay fiscally responsible and provide the city’s core services, we were forced to eliminate nonessential programs and services and reduce staffing.”
At the time of publication, Council Members Peter Gordon, Tanner Rose and Mike Snyder had released public statements in response to the firings.
Gordon, in a March 24 Facebook post, said council had been informed of the layoffs after they were in effect, adding that council will discuss the terminations in greater detail at council’s March 26 special-called meeting.
“This is a heart-breaking and frustrating development for our city, and my heart goes out to those who lost their jobs,” Gordon said, later adding: “I have already seen conflicting and confusing information posted online, and I want to be sure we are working from facts and not assumptions. I urge you to be patient until we can figure this out and get the full details later this week and see if anything can be done.”
Rose confirmed that he had also been notified of the terminations following city actions in a March 24 Facebook post.
“With great shock and sadness, I was informed today of the decision of the City of Hutto to lay off employees in this unprecedented time,” Rose said. “I asked if all the options had been exhausted to stop these actions from happening and was informed they had been looked at. I know these decisions did not come easy but that doesn’t make the information any easier to process.”
While city officials have attributed this week’s terminations to financial constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Snyder said he believed the firings came as a result of financial mismanagement on the city’s behalf. In a March 24 Facebook post, Snyder cited several recent city payments, including a $412,000 separation agreement with former City Manager Odis Jones, a $630,000 settlement agreement made with former Perfect Game developer Wolverine Interests on Nov. 7 as well as more than $1 million in legal severances, as he claimed in his post.
“Today was one of the saddest days that I can remember,” Snyder said. “Definitely, the saddest day for me while on the Hutto City Council.”