Trumbull lays off 30 town employees, seeks to lower tax proposal

With the COVID-19 pandemic placing residents, and the town, in a financial bind, First Selectman Vicki Tesoro said she had no choice but to lay off 30 town employees last week.

Tesoro, citing the privacy of the workers, declined to specify which employees had been let go, or what departments they had worked in, but said they were workers who had provided town services and were unable to do so from home.

“Unfortunately, in these difficult times we need to make difficult decisions,” Tesoro said. “Last week I laid off 30 part-time (town) employees who are not able to work from home to deliver town services.”

Tesoro said the employees would be eligible to apply for state unemployment benefits. She said she looked forward to re-staffing the town when the current crisis is over, but also said there was no way of knowing what long-term effects the outbreak would have in terms of demand for town services.

“Laying people off was the last thing I wanted to do, but for the town it is the financially prudent decision because they can’t work to deliver town services,” she said.

The news of the layoffs comes at a time when the town is also taking action on municipal tax relief and approving a municipal budget for 2020-21. The Town Council has scheduled a vote on two tax relief packages April 21 — one that will create a 90-day grace period for tax payments due April 1 and July 1, and another that would reduce interest rates on delinquent taxes. Tesoro has recommended deferment that would apply to all town taxpayers.

In addition, the Board of Finance has its budget vote scheduled for April 22. Currently the board is reviewing Tesoro’s $180.1 million proposal that she submitted in early March. The budget, if adopted without changes, would result in a tax increase of 2.59 percent, although Tesoro said the town was working to make the proposal leaner. Once the finance board approves a budget proposal, the Town Council can make adjustments before sending the final draft back to Tesoro for her signature.

With many businesses still closed, and people across the state filing for unemployment benefits at a record rate, any increase in residents’ financial burden was going to be tough for many people to absorb, she said.

“We know many of our residents and businesses are suffering during this crisis and it is our intent to lessen the municipal tax burden to the lowest extent possible while maintaining our critical town services,” she said.

Both the Town Council meeting on tax relief and the Board of Finance’s budget deliberations will be available for residents to view online.

The council meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. April 21, can be watched online or by telephone at 312-626-6799. The webinar ID is 916 8766 5134 and the password is 735745.

The Board of Finance meeting is at 7 p.m. April 22 will also be available online. Details will be shared when available.