AUSTIN (KXAN) — COVID-19 has caused businesses to shutter and people to lose their jobs. At present, the City of Austin is the city’s fourth-largest employer and has over 500 vacant positions all on hold. City departments can’t fill them because of a citywide hiring freeze.
Just this week, Austin’s City Manager Spencer Cronk released a city memo delaying the city’s reintegration plan for the second time. Initially, city employees were supposed to return to work in June, that date was pushed back to July and now, city employees are expected to return by the end of Septemeber.
The reintegration plan will happen in phases. The September date is for the first phase. The city will determine the dates for subsequent phases at a later date.
“Everybody in the city, everybody, is just anxious to get back to lives to look more normal to us,” Mayor Steve Adler said. “The city, like everyone else, is trying to push the date of when everybody will come back, but we will be reevaluating that, managers reevaluating that regularly.”
The date could change again depending on the status of COVID-19 in two months. The latest numbers show Travis County is experiencing a slight dip — flattening the curve. However, Mayor Adler said this isn’t something you beat — at least not yet. He said it will take everyone continuing to wear masks and social distancing.
City leaders are also working to figure out when they will be able to lift its hiring freeze.
“Can’t be sure how long the hiring freezes are going to last in part because we don’t know what’s happening to the economy over the next six months,” Mayor Adler said.
While the city’s hiring is paused, there are some exemptions for what they call “critical positions.” To date, 60 positions were granted exemptions.
Mayor Adler said another thing they’re keeping an eye on is Capitol Hill, and the money the government approves at the federal level could impact their decisions locally.