The city of Portland early this afternoon informed employees that it is taking a number of steps to reduce spending because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tom Rinehart, the city's chief administrative officer, sent out the message in an email to all city employees.

Rinehart outlined the following steps as the city faces what it expects will be a $100 million reduction in its discretionary general fund next year (that's about a 17 percent reduction).

· Effective July 1, 2020, no cost-of-living raises will be awarded to non-represented employees until further notice.

· Effective today, all merit increases will be frozen for non-represented employees. Employees with anniversary dates on or before April 10, 2020, are still eligible to receive merit increases as their performance evaluations are processed. Employees with anniversary dates between April 11 and June 30, 2020, will still receive performance evaluations from their managers. Their merit increases will be suspended until the City determines it can process this award. Employees with anniversary dates after July 1, 2020, should not expect to receive a merit award during the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

· All non-represented employees will be required to take 10 days of unpaid leave, known as furlough, between April 30 and Oct. 7, 2020. Bureaus will have flexibility in determining how each person meets this requirement. Options include taking one furlough day each pay period, taking two days per pay period or taking one week at a time. It is essential that employees do not perform work on the days they take furlough. I want to reassure everybody that your healthcare coverage will continue as usual while you take furlough days.

Rinehart said the steps announced today, which apply to about 1,700 city employees not represented by labor unions, should save about $19 million.

He also announced that Mayor Ted Wheeler will take no salary for the rest of this calendar year. He makes $143,666, so the city estimates the savings will come to about $95,000.

Larger cuts will have to involve the union-represented employees who make up nearly three-quarters of the city's 6,300 full-time employees.

Rinehart said those conversations are in progress.

"We are discussing the same strategies—including pay freezes and furloughs—with our labor partners," Rinehart wrote. "So far, we are finding common ground and a shared commitment to saving jobs and restoring the city's financial well-being as quickly as possible. Our goal is to reach agreement about these approaches before Mayor Wheeler's budget is released at the end of this month."