One week after the City of Beverly Hills mandated that everyone must wear protective face coverings in public, it’s impossible not to realize how much our community has changed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The upcoming City Council meeting on April 21 is poised to confront some of the financial ramifications for Beverly Hills, given that virtually everyone in the county is confined to their residences, including roughly three-quarters of City staff.
“A report from the City’s Finance Department next Tuesday will begin to analyze the short and long-term fiscal impacts of COVID-19,” City spokesperson Keith Sterling told the Courier. “With a majority of the City’s retail establishments, hotels and restaurants temporarily closed, a significant impact to the City’s revenues is expected.”
Given the momentous societal shifts created by the pandemic, the City’s projected total resources for Fiscal Year 2019/20 of just north of $515 million, including $220.2 million in taxes, will need to be adjusted. The anticipated $51 million in Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) for the fiscal year will be meaningfully impacted, given the unprecedented losses of Beverly Hills hotel guests who aren’t traveling in response to COVID-19. Several hotels have temporarily closed, while those that do remain open report sub-10 percent occupancy.
At the previous City Council meeting earlier this month, the Council agreed to defer the TOT remittance due date for the months of February, March and April by four months following the month in which the tax was originally slated for collection.
The City had also anticipated $35.4 million in sales tax revenue for the current fiscal year. But all non-essential businesses, including retail stores, are closed. Projections for next year’s revenue sources will thus be heavily impacted.
Sterling told the Courier that while the City has committed to paying all of its roughly 1,000 employees through April 24, that could change following the upcoming City Council meeting.
“While we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are aware of the long-term fiscal impacts upon our businesses and residents,” Mayor Lester Friedman told the Courier. “As we prepare for the future, City Council is beginning to address the anticipated financial shortfalls we will face. The Council will examine strategies to maintain the fiscal health of our City while cognizant of the service levels our community expects and deserves.”