Akron, Ohio, March 31, 2020 – In continuance of the City of Akron’s commitment to doing what is necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of City residents and staff, Mayor Dan Horrigan is announcing the next wave of preparations and protective measures to reduce the local impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Without a doubt, these are challenging times, but I am confident that we will emerge from this crisis with a strengthened sense of purpose, more compassion, and clearer priorities—both as individuals and as a community,” Mayor Horrigan said. “At this time, every step we are taking is intended to help ‘flatten the curve’ and save lives. I am proud of the collaboration and coordination occurring all across our city. I promise to continue to wake up each and every morning thinking of ways to empower Akron residents with the information and resources they need to keep their families safe, healthy, and financially secure throughout this event.”
Additional steps being announced by the City of Akron are outlined below:
Lock 3, Recreation and Community Events:
Mayor Horrigan has suspended all recreation programming through May 31st. Therefore, no City events will take place in April or May. Programming at Lock 3—as well as all community events that the City sponsors or issues permits for—will tentatively resume on June 1, 2020. All future events are subject to change or cancellation, based on then-current public health orders and guidance regarding social distancing.
“Equal access to public space and cultural recreation is an important component of any healthy and thriving community,” Deputy Mayor of Integrated Development James Hardy said. “But as we all sacrifice for the greater good, the City will be modifying its spring and summer schedules to ensure the best possible long-term public health outcomes for all those who live, work, or play in Akron.”
City parks remain open for walking and other socially-distanced activities, but community centers and equipment (including playgrounds and basketball courts) are closed in accordance with the Ohio Stay at Home Order.
Budget Task Force & Hiring Freeze
This week, Mayor Horrigan has convened an internal Budget Task Force to make assessments regarding the potential impact of the pandemic on City finances, and to develop recommendations for priorities and potential savings within City expenditures. The Task Force’s first recommendation was implemented immediately: the City is instituting a hiring freeze of permanent full time employees due to the significant budgetary implications of COVID-19. The hiring freeze becomes effective April 1, 2020, and will remain in effect until further notice. All vacant positions within the City of Akron will be reevaluated, included positions that are currently posted or those that become vacant. The hiring freeze does not apply to temporary part-time workers who work seasonally for the City and are deemed to be essential.
At Mayor Horrigan’s direction, the Budget Task Force is also analyzing potential economic impacts of the pandemic, and creating tiered projections for budget reductions, ranging between 5% and 20%, so that the City can be prepared for a variety of possibilities.
“This is not where any of us expected to be when we developed our 2020 budget plans,” Mayor Horrigan remarked, “But, just like so many families and businesses across the community, we now must make difficult, but responsible, decisions about where to spend available funds and whether to make new financial commitments. Until we are able to adequately project the impact of this crisis, we must be as frugal as possible, while still providing the services that keep our neighborhoods stable and safe.”
Modifications to Curbside Service
Today, the City’s Public Service Department is announcing that it will be implementing cart-only service starting next week. After fulfilling all previously submitted requests for bulk pickup, the City will be pausing collection of bulk trash in order to reduce the risk to City workers who must physically lift and handle customers’ furniture, tires, and other items left on the curb.
At a time when more residents are working and staying at home, the amount of residential trash has increased. “The combination of weather days and more time at home has led many residents to undertake ‘spring cleaning’ and leave unwanted items on the curb,” Director of Public Service Chris Ludle said. “Unfortunately, this presents an increased risk to our workers. As we focus on essential services and take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we are asking residents to use only their carts to dispose of all trash and recycling in their home.” Trash and recycling carts are emptied into trucks using an electronic arm, and workers are not exposed to customer’s items during normal operation.
The City will fulfill any bulk pickup requests that have already submitted through 3-1-1, however new requests are no longer being accepted. Customers pay nothing for this service, and therefore will not see any change in their bill.
“We thank you for your continued commitment to helping us protect the health and safety of our workers and residents,” Mayor Horrigan concluded. “Your efforts and sacrifices are deeply appreciated and are making a real difference.”
For the most up-to-date information on the City of Akron’s proactive response to this virus, please visit www.akronohio.gov/COVID19. For information from Summit County Public Health, visit www.scph.org/covid-19 or call their hotline at (330) 926-5795. For information regarding the State’s continuing efforts, please visit www.coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-427-5634.