At its May 19 meeting, the Mercer Island City Council unanimously approved the reallotment of $170,000 from the city’s human resources (HR) department to complete outstanding 2020 work items.
The money will support two to three HR employees as well as a consultant hired earlier this year to help complete the actions. The $170,000 comes explicitly from the annual salary and benefits savings for the HR director position ($177,000), which is currently unfilled.
Five work items will be completed as a result of the reallotment, according to a May 19 meeting agenda item. They include further administrative support on subjects such as benefit payments and leave accruals. The list includes the digitization of payroll records and current personnel files, new software implementation and more.
“These are generally short-term work items that will be completed by the end of 2020,” according to the meeting agenda. “Many of these work items arose from the results of the recent state audit and other recent staff findings.”
Although the city manager has the authority to reappropriate these budgeted funds, the city council was asked for its approval before proceeding in light of COVID-19-related financial planning.
The motion to approve the reallotment was part of the consent calendar, which the council unanimously approved at the beginning of the meeting.
Also discussed at the May 19 meeting, which was held over Zoom to uphold social-distancing mandates, were the 2021-2026 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and a 2020 Port of Seattle Economic Program Grant.
The council was originally scheduled to continue discussing COVID-19-related budget adjustments at the meeting, including a vote, but this was deferred to June 2.
As a partial result of COVID-19 effects, the city of Mercer Island has seen an extensive amount of revenue shortfall, resulting in cost-cutting. Some of this cost-cutting included 20 layoffs across several departments — Youth and Family Services, Parks and Recreation and facilities — and 11 furloughs.
“There was no easy decision here,” city manager Jessi Bon previously said at a May 5 city council meeting.