Nearly 200 vacant, part-time and full-time jobs are being cut from the city of North Charleston’s budget as the municipality suffers decreased tax revenue due to business closures from the coronavirus.
In a statement Friday, North Charleston said 51 vacant positions will not be filled. Additionally, more than 125 part-time positions and 21 full-time positions will be eliminated.
Many municipalities in the tri-county area rely on revenue from hotel accommodations taxes, sales taxes and business permitting fees because of the robust tourism sector in the Lowcountry. But as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout South Carolina, restaurants and bars have dealt with closures and decreased capacity allowances, and lodging occupancy has dipped substantially.
North Charleston’s 2021 budget needed to be scaled back to the prior fiscal year’s levels. Paired with the decline in revenue, the city was anticipating $10 million to $15 million in losses, the statement said.
“The City of North Charleston’s budget has been and will continue to be negatively impacted by COVID-19,” the statement read. “Our local business community has been hit hard by the pandemic, and therefore, the City’s budget and projected revenues have been heavily affected.”
The city announced that it has issued an “Emergency Personnel Reduction Program” resulting in the nearly 200 positions being eliminated.
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“These personnel expense reductions result in an estimated additional savings of approximately $6.8 million annually,” the statement said.
In April, city spokesman Ryan Johnson told The Post and Courier that the third-largest municipality in the state anticipated to lose between $1.5 million and $4 million from hospitality taxes.
Prior to the virus, they had anticipated to collect around $15 million in tourism-related taxes this year.
There have been nearly 20,000 new COVID-19 cases in South Carolina in the past two weeks. With the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases approaching 100,000, state health officials say there may be signs disease activity is slowing down in the state.
Reach Thomas Novelly at 843-937-5713. Follow him @TomNovelly on Twitter.