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Layoffs, facility closures hit the City of Boise as COVID-19 resurges

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COVID-19 Idaho

The City of Boise will once again shutter many facilities to try and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Starting November 23, the city plans to close a number of facilities to the public:

  • Boise City Hall
  • City Hall West
  • All Boise Public Library facilities
  • Boise WaterShed
  • Foothills Learning Center
  • Boise Depot
  • Boise Urban Garden School
  • Fort Boise Community Center
  • James Castle House

These closures will remain in place through at least January 15, according to an email to city staff from Mayor Lauren McLean obtained by BoiseDev.

[Boise Mayor, City Council won’t raise their pay in 2021]

This is similar to the city’s operations during stage two of its reopening plan in April and May. Boise Public Libraries will remain open for curbside service and will make computers available by appointment.

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Other closures include Idaho IceWorld, the Boise Senior Center and the Boise Municipal Pools until at least summer 2021.

“Earlier this fall we began to slowly reopen, and with strict safety protocols we were able to do so safely,” McLean said in the email. “However, with the amount of community spread we are seeing it is no longer safe for us to operate many of our facilities and services as we currently are.”

Budget cuts

Safety wasn’t the only reason for the closures. McLean said in her email the “budget implications” of operating all of the city’s facilities also played a role. Due to the closures, “a handful” of city employees were laid off. She did not specify the department or the number of employees let go.

We asked City spokesman Seth Ogilve to confirm the moves and provide a number of positions affected. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I want you to know that, in partnership with department leadership and the city council, we are doing everything we can to not have to make more decisions like this,” McLean said. “However, we need our community to take this pandemic seriously. To that end, we are working on strategies to help enforce critical COVID-19 protocols to help keep our community safe, ease the burden on our health system, protect our businesses, and control community spread.”

This is the latest in a series of budget tightening moves in recent months, including pulling out of a mobility collaborativereducing the rate of employee raises, trimming maintenance and operations spending, and more. The city said it would shed $34 million from its budget this year over the previous year, and elected not to raise the base rate of property taxes on existing homes and businesses.

Margaret Carmel
Margaret is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at margaret@boisedev.com or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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