MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey presented his plan Thursday to address the remaining $97.8 million budget deficit the city is facing due to COVID-19.

The mayor already made cuts earlier in the year due to the pandemic in phase 1 of his plan. Hiring and wage freezes were put in place, but those are simply not enough to keep things going. Frey said more cuts need to be made — and layoffs are a possibility.

During a virtual budget meeting Thursday morning, Frey spoke to the city council about cuts to one-time spending, furloughs and using some cash reserve.

Frey said most city employees will have anywhere from four to fix days of furlough. Under his plan, the city would also be taking $8 million from the rainy day fund to help offset the budget deficit. A freeze would be put on all discretionary spending.

Still, there are priorities that Frey does not want to touch. The mayor said the Convention Center already underwent layoffs but he does not want to close it, saying the city would need to bring in additional revenue from future events. He also said he was prioritizing affordable housing for people who have immediate needs.

While Frey said he wants to avoid layoffs, it’s possible that 40 workers could lose their jobs.

“This unprecedented time calls for an unprecedented approach to our budget,” Frey said. “The 2020 budget was something we worked on, sweated, fought about, but in the end we found a compromise. What I am delivering today is very much a budget still in flux.”

The city council will hold two public meetings to get feedback on the budget proposal. The first will be on July 14 and the next will be July 22.

Kate Raddatz

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