HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — Forty-eight City of Hutto employees have been told they no longer have a job.
City officials are attributing the layoffs — which include entire city departments — to COVID-19.
KXAN’s Kaitlyn Karmout talked to a few of the city employees left without a job in midst of a pandemic.
“Animal control is essential. It’s not something you can go without in a town or a city,” said Jacqueline Corbiere, Former Hutto Animal Control Officer. “The first thing going through my mind was they were laying off both animal control officers. We are an essential program.”
That’s not according to the City of Hutto. City officials released this statement to KXAN.
“Our City is being challenged during this pandemic and the City is facing a significant impact to the financial health of the City. The leadership team has diligently worked to make the best decisions for the City, citizens, and our staff. During a time of crisis, business slows and therefore, revenue slows. We have evaluated the current and future impact of the crisis on City staff, operations and finances as we must continue to provide core services to citizens. During this time, our businesses and citizens are being impacted financially. The unfortunate decision to have layoffs was a difficult one; but in order for the City to stay fiscally responsible and provide the City’s core services we were forced to eliminate non-essential programs and services and reduce staffing. We are hoping as the situation improves we will be able to reinstate some of our programs resulting in ramping back up staffing.”
The 48-employee-layoff included both Jaqueline Corbiere and Wayne Cunningham; the city’s two animal control officers.
“It came as a shock to me and my partner Jackie,” said Wayne Cunningham, Former Hutto Animal Control Officer.
Corbiere begs to differ with the city’s decision. She says animal control officers are, in fact, vital to a city.
“It’s not just picking up stray dogs. It’s rabies control, it’s quarantine.. state law,” said Corbiere.
The Williamson County Animal Shelter agrees.
Cheryl Schneider, the shelter director says animal control helps the center keep up with their mission.
“The animal control officers in each one of those agencies are a big reason why we can remain no kill, or have a high save rate,” said Cheryl Schneider, Williamson County Animal Shelter Director. “They do everything they can to get animals back to their homes, and not bring them back to the shelter.”
That’s especially during a time when the shelter has lessened their intake of animals, which they have had to do because of COVID-19.
Several other city department employees have lost their jobs. Some include: the city’s Code Department, Parks and Recreation, Hutto City Hall staff and Public Works employees.
“I had sick time. I had close to 200 hours,” said Sharon Parker, Former City of Hutto Employee. “I lost all of my sick time. If I happened to catch this, then now I have no sick leave and I have no medical insurance to cover me.”
Sharon Parker was an event planner for the city. She’s without a job now too. Parker says the city brought all of its employees out in groups of six. During their meeting, the city told them it’s in a financial crisis, and wouldn’t survive until the end of the year at its current rate.
A council member told KXAN that preliminary account gin underway in city hall shows a $4 million deficit and growing. The 48 employees left without a job, however, are wondering if COVID-19 is the root cause.
“All of our surrounding cities, this is happening to them,” said Parker. “Why is it happening just in Hutto?”