OC keeping wary eye on finances

Oil City officials are keeping a close eye on revenues in light of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the economy.

In mid-April, city manager Mark Schroyer said the city’s 80 employees would remain on the payroll at least through the end of April. The staff is working out of city hall despite the municipal building being closed to public traffic.

That scenario could change due to a drop in revenue.

“We are evaluating our finances,” said Schroyer. “At this point, it appears we will not be furloughing or laying off anyone through the month of May. However, we are very concerned as municipalities are pushing back their tax (payment) deadlines and that will have an impact on our revenue. End of the month, we will look at where we are,” Schroyer added.

Since mid-March when the business and school shutdowns began, city staff members have focused on maintaining basic services to local residents and businesses. Schroyer said the city was “doing pretty well under the circumstances” to maintain water, sewage, fire and police services.

As the summer season approaches, though, providing services related to the season could be affected, Schroyer said.

“We’re getting into that busy season for our public works and our parks departments and, if we are considering layoffs, that would be a problem this summer addressing our parks,” said Schroyer.

While the city playgrounds remain open, they are posted with cautions that patrons enjoy them “at their own risk” because the equipment hasn’t been sanitized, he said.

In addition, the use of city-owned lots such as the softball fields is questionable.

“We are starting to get inquiries from the softball associations as to what our thoughts are about league play,” said Schroyer. “We are not sanctioning any league play at this time and are waiting further direction from the governor. It’s been opened up to parties of 25 people but with people sitting close to each other on benches and in dugouts, I’m not sure how they can observe social distancing. So, it is still up in the air.”

One key city recreational venue will probably not open for the summer season.

“The swimming pool is something we will talk about at the May 14 council meeting,” said Schroyer. The proposition now is 50-50 at best so unless something drastic happens as to social distancing and things of that nature, the opening of the pool is certainly in doubt.”

Meanwhile, the city is moving ahead with some major construction projects. Bids for $5.9 million in projects at the North Side pump station and the wastewater treatment plant will be awarded at the May 14 meeting.

The city is also considering a major water line replacement on Halyday.

“And, we’re looking at our paving projects,” said Schroyer. “Even with all this, we’re moving ahead on important infrastructure projects.”