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The city of Paso Robles preparing for budget shortfalls due to COVID-19

Posted at 9:27 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 01:50:44-04

The city of Paso Robles relies on sales taxes, property taxes, and the hotel industry's transient occupancy taxes for a large portion of its revenue.

However, with stay at home orders in the state and visitors no longer coming to town, occupancy is down in hotels and sales tax is not being generated, all factors that are impacting the city's budget.

"We figure that between the sales tax generated by travelers, and the transient occupancy tax those dollars amount to about 40% of our general fund," said Steve Martin, Paso Robles Mayor.

For a city that relies on large gatherings in hotels, wineries, and even the California Mid-State Fair, the thought of losing those sources of revenue poses a challenge.

"Anytime those gatherings are affected as they are during the COVID-19 crisis, it has a significant impact on the community. There's no doubt about it," said Mayor Martin.

As local economies are facing an uphill battle to return to where they once were before the coronavirus pandemic, San Luis Obispo County health officials announced an extension for shelter at home orders.

"At the time being we are going to continue to need to continue on our course of social distancing," said Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Public Health officer.

With about another month of the shelter at home order, cities like Paso Robles are focused on only essential services such as public safety, water, and wastewater.

"We are obviously going to be deferring any non-essential spending. We have a hiring freeze on, except for public safety. Any non-essential, non-critical capital improvement projects are being put on hold," said Mayor Martin.

Mayor Martin mentioned he is writing a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, saying the city supports opening up the economy, on a measured and safe basis.

The city of Paso Robles will be discussing more budget impact measures and exactly what non-essential services they will be able to maintain going forward, during its meeting on April 21st.