By Gaige Davila
The City of South Padre Island is planning to cut at least $2,074,000 from their budget, preparing for an uncertain summer season after the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected the tourism and hospitality industry in March and April.
“We’re just trying to stay ahead of the curve,” Patrick McNulty, mayor of South Padre Island, said during the city’s April 15 council meeting. McNulty said the budget cuts are being made to prevent the city from taking money from the $6 million in reserves.
Council voted to allow City Manager Randy Smith and Chief Financial Officer Rodrigo Gimenez to make any necessary budget changes due to “shortfalls” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
According to Gimenez, the $2 million cut is to offset March and April’s loss in hotel occupancy tax revenue and sales.
From the general budget: the Public Works, Environmental Health Services, Municipal Court, Public Safety, IT, and administrative departments would experience reductions totaling $165,578. A 6-month hiring freeze from the city manager’s office, police department and fire department would save $90,138.
From the hotel occupancy tax (HOT) and Convention and Visitors Bureau: a 6-month hiring freeze in Sales and Marketing departments would reduce $75,393. The Visitors Center, Sales, Administrative, Events Marketing, Marketing and TAG Marketing departments would be reduced by $1,351,449 total.
From the state HOT tax and beach maintenance departments: A 3-month hiring freeze for Beach Patrol reduces the budget by $20,536. The Beach Patrol temporary employees, Antilitter Program, Shoreline and Beach Access reductions total $371,155.
Though these budget cuts are being made for the near future, the city is already preparing for a “new normal,” McNulty said.
“People might be scared to go out to eat, people might be scared to go on vacation,” he said. “We’ve got to really plan for a long term turnaround on this.”