Irving—During its April 16 meeting, the Irving City Council reviewed reports and presentations about the business and economic environment within the city.
During the work session meeting, Beth Bowman, president/CEO of the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce presented the chamber’s quarterly update. She explained some of the successes the chamber has seen, such as 1,200 new jobs and $100 million in capital investment. However, Bowman transitioned into sharing a report about the status of small businesses from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“Twenty-four percent of small businesses have shut down temporarily,” Bowman said. “Among those who haven’t shut down yet, 40 percent report they are likely to do so within the next two weeks. Forty-three percent believe they have less than six months until a permanent shutdown is unavoidable.”
The topic came up later in the work session when the council discussed extending the Declaration of Local Disaster for Public Health Emergency to address COVID-19. The declaration was extended until May 8.
“This is important for us to continue to have an order to qualify for federal and state reimbursement for our expenses relation to our response to COVID-19,” Chris Hillman, Irving city manager, said.
“It’s time to let people figure out how to get back to work,” John Danish, councilman, said. “Everybody is really hurting, especially those who are non-essential workers.”
Toward the end of the work session, the council heard about its own finances from Jeff Litchfield, Irving chief financial officer.
“If we have to head into a recession, I think we are in a good financial position,” Litchfield said. “This is very early in the process. We think the general fund revenue will probably be down $16.6 million for the year or 7.1 percent.
“On Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) it’s much more severe. We had a budget of $27.8 million, and our current projection is 19.3 million. Sales tax is the largest drop of $10.3 million, that’s 14.31 percent for the year. We are thinking it will be 30 percent for the last six months of the year.
“We were running seven percent greater than our budget, so we were having a very good year until this started. This is all our current guess,” Litchfield said. He also explained that he will not see numbers for April until early-mid June.
In non-COVID-19 related topics, the city successfully negotiated an extension for its contract with TXU down to $.03179 per kWh. The rate will start in May 2023 and go until May 2029, and the energy will be 100 percent renewable by then.