Revenues for the elected regional government plunge because of the novel coronavirus pandemic

COURTESY OREGON ZOO - Metro is losing money as the Oregon Zoo and other visitor facilities remain closed.The Metro Council has cut its budget for the next fiscal year by 20% because of projected revenue losses caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

The regional government approved the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 on Thursday, May 7. It is the first government of any size in the state to approve its next budget.

State, county, city and district government are all predicting revenue losses next year, but not as large as 20%. Metro is especially dependent on tourism and entertainment activities because it owns and operates visitor facilities in the region, including the Oregon Zoo, the Oregon Convention Center, the Portland Expo Center, and the performing arts facilities in Portland. All closed after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown limited large gatherings in March.

"The initial Metro budget, released just as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold in Oregon, anticipated $424 million in revenue for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1," Metro reported on its website Wednesday, May 12.

"Instead, Metro expects $333 million, with more cuts possible if the coronavirus pandemic forces more facility closures beyond autumn 2020."

Metro also collects charges on the solid waste that passes through the collection system it oversees. That revenue has fallen as businesses have closed. Commercial food waste — uneaten food from restaurants and grocery stores, for example — has plummeted.

The pre-COVID-19 budget for fiscal year 2020-21 featured 1,040 full-time equivalent Metro employees. The adopted budget included just 978 FTE.

"That reflects eliminating positions that had been approved to go into a proposed budget, as well as layoffs throughout the agency," Metro Chief Financial Officer Brian Kennedy said.

You can learn more about the next Metro budget here.

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