Update: AMEA Executive Board discussion with City Manager

Dear AMEA member,

We hope this email finds you and your family safe. The events of the past few months have been both highly unique and highly unsettling. First the COVID-19 crisis hit, then the City changed City Managers. Disneyland closed, the Convention Center effectively shut down, and hotels either closed or continued to operate with drastically reduced occupancy. The City’s revenue stream is highly dependent on sales taxes and transient occupancy taxes, both of which have been heavily impacted.

Last Thursday members of the Executive Board participated in a telephone conference between AMEA and the new City Manager. All is not gloom and doom—the City is taking steps to use reserves and temporary fund transfers between accounts to address short-term cash needs. It is also investigating several alternative ways to generate additional revenue in the coming weeks and months. But there is no question that the City faces a very large revenue shortfall for at least the next fiscal year and likely beyond. There is also little question that AMEA and the other unions may be asked to make sacrifices at some point.

However, to date we have had no discussions or indications about what those sacrifices might be. There have been no discussions with the City about layoffs, furloughs, wages or any other measures that could negatively impact AMEA members. Part of the challenge of course is that no one knows with any detail what lies ahead. We don’t know when Disneyland will reopen or what that might look like. We don’t know when the Convention Center will once again host conventions. We don’t know when people will feel safe enough to travel and stay in hotels, or what the course of the COVID-19 virus might be. We also don’t know whether or when additional revenue sources might materialize.

Our discussion with the City Manager was as reassuring as it could have been under the circumstances. He was with the City in ’08-’09. He volunteered what a great partner AMEA has been to the City. He emphasized worker safety and security and told us he is in no great rush to reopen City Hall or other closed facilities until he is sure it is safe to do so. He underscored his commitment to be both fair and collaborative. We emphasized that the City should not make rash decisions, particularly involving workers. Every day brings change, and our message was that the City should allow a reasonable time to let some of those changes play out.

One of those possible positive changes is bipartisan legislation being introduced in the U.S. Senate called the State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition Act, or SMART Act. This bill would provide an additional $500 billion to states, counties, and cities. The legislation has support from important stakeholders like the National Governors Association and the National Association of Counties. Most importantly, it is a bipartisan measure. For Anaheim, it could be a lifeline to backfill revenue already lost and future losses for some period of time.

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more, but meanwhile stay safe and know we’re fighting for you every day.

Your AMEA Executive Board

Publication Date: May 25, 2020