Akron, Ohio, April 29, 2020—As the City of Akron moves forward into the next phase of the response to the COVID-19 crisis and prepares for recovery, the City will be transitioning toward modified business operations and services within our community.
On Monday, April 27, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine’s administration issued the Responsible RestartOhio Plan, a modification of the Stay at Home Order, in which additional business operations, including office work and manufacturing will be permitted to resume, under strict guidelines that include physical distancing, regular cleaning, and health screenings. Face coverings will be strongly encouraged among the general public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Pursuant to this order, and the ongoing state of emergency, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan will be implementing the following changes in this next phase of the City’s response to COVID-19.
City Workforce Updates:
The City will be implementing limited employee remobilization based on the most urgent needs and the safety of employees and the public. On May 4th, the City will be returning approximately 135 employees, who were previously on temporary emergency leave, to work. The number of employees remaining on temporary emergency leave is approximately 319. The majority of returning workers are being brought back to work in the areas of: neighborhood code enforcement, highway and street maintenance, utilities maintenance, billing and tax collection, cleaning/maintenance of city buildings, parks, and property, and small business assistance and recovery efforts. Some workers will continue to work remotely, when possible.
The City is working to appropriately distance employees and provide appropriate PPE, disinfectant for workspaces, hand sanitizer, etc. Personal face coverings will be required for all employees when occupying common or public spaces in City buildings (e.g. elevators, lobbies, meeting rooms, restrooms, etc.)
Recreation and Parks Updates:
As a reminder, the City has not issued any general statement or order regarding privately-hosted or privately-organized events within the City. Organizers of such events should continue to monitor and follow Ohio Department of Health and Summit County Public Health guidelines related to public gatherings. On April 22, the City of Akron announced that it will not host or hold City-sponsored events with an expected attendance of 250+ during the spring or summer of 2020 (through 9/7/2020), including Lock 3 concerts and festivals. Please read the entire release here, and contact organizations directly with any question about privately-organized events.
City parks remain open for socially distanced recreation. In accordance with the ongoing order from the State of Ohio, playgrounds and courts remain closed. City Golf courses (Good Park and Mud Run) will be reopening for limited operations starting May 1, 2020. Social distancing will be mandatory and additional health/safety precautions have been implemented. Details are available at www.golfakroncity.com (and attached here).
The City continues to evaluate ways to safely open and operate community centers, pools, and summer camps, subject to public health guidelines. The current expected open date for these facilities is June 1. Regrettably, the City is adding to the list of events that will be postponed until 2021. The Summer Concert Series in neighborhood parks and the Heinz Poll festival are two cherished Akron summer event series that will not be moving forward in 2020, due to ongoing concerns about the ability to appropriately protect individuals, while preserving the unique entertainment experience of these particular events.
However, the City is still working to creatively plan free neighborhood recreation opportunities that will enable social distancing, including July 4th neighborhood-based fireworks shows.
Budget Task Force Update:
Based on internal economic analysis, in the coming months the City of Akron expects a 20% to 35% drop in the revenue used to support core city services. Unfortunately, to date, federal CARES Act funding has not been made available to sustain core City services, which is placing unprecedented pressure on strained municipal budgets. The City’s Finance team is working with departments to identify savings, while awaiting more detailed income tax revenue data that will enable Mayor Horrigan and City leadership to better project the immediate impact of COVID-19 on City finances. Mayor Horrigan’s administration is maintaining an open line of communication with union leaders regarding the impact budget constraints and lost revenue will have on our City workforce.
“One thing we know for certain is that difficult decisions lie ahead,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “It is likely that there will be additional modifications in City services in 2020, and that some programs or projects will be delayed. We are incredibly appreciative of the unified response and ongoing dedication of our workers and residents during this extraordinary time.”
Additional Public Reminders/Notices:
Bulk pick-up services remain paused for the safety and health of City workers. Residents are encouraged to place all household trash into their carts for curbside pick-up. If residents can wait to dispose of bulk items, they are encouraged to do so; however, if emergency needs arise residents can contact private trash haulers, as is the standard practice in many communities.
Keep Akron Beautiful will begin picking up litter on May 5, 2020, focusing first on City of Akron expressways, roadsides, and complaints. They will have modified processes to keep their employees and the public safe, while helping to keep our community clean.
The City is working to hold City boards and commission meetings, as needed, using videoconference/teleconference and livestreaming technology. Please visit www.akronohio.gov/COVID19 to see if and when any virtual public meetings are scheduled and announced.
The City is reminding customers that water and sewer charges still apply and that all charges for usage must be paid in full. Starting May 1, any unpaid balances on utility bills will incur normal penalties and interest. Customers struggling to make payments due to loss of income or other circumstances should contact (330) 375-2554 as soon as possible to avoid future disconnection. Mayor Horrigan continues to work with state and federal partners to find a solution to Akron’s unaffordable water/sewer bills—a long-term challenge which has been aggravated by the current economic crisis. Mayor Horrigan continues to urge those lawmakers to implement changes that will give Akron ratepayers the relief they need and deserve.
As a reminder, public access to City buildings remains extremely limited, but customer service staff members are available to assist over the phone or online. Please visit www.akronohio.gov/COVID19 or contact 3-1-1 for more information about how to make payments, submit information, or contact City personnel over the phone or online.
The City of Akron is strongly urging residents to wear facial coverings when out in public. Wearing a facial covering will help prevent further spread of the virus.
For assistance with local resources including food, shelter, and clothing please dial 2-1-1. For information on financial assistance for businesses, SBA loans, unemployment, and more please visit the Greater Akron Chamber's COVID-19 resource guide at www.gaccovid19.org.