Officials with the city of Fort Worth continue to search for cost-saving measures as they anticipate large shortfalls in sales tax and other revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city announced May 6 that 79 Fort Worth Public Events Department employees will be furloughed from May 16-July 31 as city officials project losses in the range of $15 million-$25 million from the cancellation of public events.
“[The city] has made the difficult decision to declare a continuous furlough period for employees in the Public Events Department,” City Manager David Cooke said in a city news release. “At this time, this is the only department that is part of the furlough.”
According to the release, officials estimate the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to a $14 million decrease in Culture and Tourism Fund revenue for fiscal year 2020-21, which began April 1.
Cutbacks to the events department are part of a citywide effort to eliminate discretionary spending and reduce labor expenses, including eliminating temporary labor and forbidding overtime pay, the release said.
City Public Events Director Mike Crum said it may take years for the tourism fund to recover to previous levels. The city could see a 50% drop in attendance for meetings and conventions through September and a possible 30% drop the following year, he said.
The city is committed to “maintaining Visit Fort Worth’s capacity to lead the recovery through effective sales and marketing,” Crum said.