EARLY – City Administrator Tony Aaron updated Early City Council members about the potential impact of COVID-19 on the city’s budget, particularly with regard to sales tax revenue.

Aaron, speaking via Zoom video conference Tuesday night, spoke with council members who met via Zoom from individual locations.

With many businesses closed, the city could see a 50 percent reduction in sales tax that could last through August and September, Aaron said.

"We’re taking the appropriate steps," Aaron said. "We’re in by no means a bad situation."

Summer work including street projects might end up being postponed, Aaron said.

"Those are usually hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it’s quite possible we could lose a couple of hundred (thousand) to $300,000 in sales tax," Aaron said. "So we’ll just look at that a lot closer before we commit to those projects, and it may just push us another year."

Aaron said the city is fortunate to have an agreement with Solaris Oilfield Infrastructure that has generated sales tax for Early.

"But of course they’re an oilfield based company, and you know what’s going on in the oil field right now," Aaron said, adding that he expects sales tax from Solaris to fall off. "But it has positioned Early to be able to withstand what we’re going through right now."

The city is looking ahead to the 2020-’21 fiscal year with cautious optimism, Aaron said.

"It’s kind of an awkward situation with us here at the city," Aaron said. "It just seems like we’re on pause."

The city aims to continue providing services, be mindful of costs and "just be very judicious about how we’re going to spend and how we’re going to budget this next year," Aaron said.

The city is operating with its public buildings including City Hall closed, Aaron said. He said the workforce is working on rotating shifts and divided into groups so they’re working on alternating days.

Most non-essential businesses have shut down on their own, Aaron said, noting the city isn’t having to have police or use code enforcement tell those businesses to stay closed.