Cities and counties impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Businesses aren't the only ones getting hit hard with losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's also taking a toll on local governments.

"I think in total it is a significant thing," said City of Eau Claire Finance Director Jay Winzenz.

"We do anticipate that there will be impacts to the budget going forward," said Eau Claire County Finance Director Norb Kirk.

In the city of Eau Claire, the closure of facilities like Hobbs Ice Arena and fewer people parking downtown is leading to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, according to Winzenz.

"It's a little unpredictable at this point because we don't know how long these orders are going to remain in place and how long these facilities will need to continue to be closed," he said.

Winzenz says in total the city could lose between $500,000 and $1 million due to the pandemic.

"We have a fairly healthy savings account, or fun balance, or rainy day fund, whatever you want to refer to it as, which we have exactly for these types of purposes. So even though we may be experiencing some revenue shortfalls, I don't expect that we'll experience any service reductions," explained Winzenz.

Kirk says the county's losses are even greater than the city's.

He says nine percent of revenue for the county comes from sales tax and between all the shutdown businesses and canceled events, he believes the county will lose between $1 million and $1.7 million.

"The longer that this has an impact on the economy and if people continue to be conservative in their spending, we're going to see that, the impact of that, drag out longer," said Kirk.

In 2020, the county estimated $130 million in total funding sources, with a budget of $124 million.

But Kirk says because of the losses expected this year, there's a good chance the budget could change in the near future.

"One of the things that we've done most recently is froze a majority of our open positions as an example. So some of those kinds of activities are going to be closely monitored, as is any kind of discretionary spending that we can," explained Kirk.

For Eau Claire County, the sales tax money doesn't come in until two months after it was collected, so Kirk expects the losses to start coming in June.

The county has also announced it's creating a task force focusing on what kind of changes, if any, need to be made in response to the pandemic.

City of Eau Claire officials say the pandemic would have to go on for years to have any significant impacts on the budget.