NORFOLK, Va. - The City of Norfolk is laying off 57 employees across several departments, according to a city spokesperson.
These employees had been furloughed since July 1. "This a very difficult decision prior to the holiday," said Communications Director Lori Crouch in an email.
The employees will be eligible for a severance payment and will be paid out for any unused leave, according to Crouch.
Among those let go is Lavonne Pledger, who had been a recreation specialist. "The anxiety and the worry - it causes a bit of trauma," said Pledger.
Pledger had been hoping the city could find a way to bring him back. "I would give anything to be able to go back and serve my community and serve my city," he said.
Norfolk is not alone in facing budget challenges as a result of the pandemic. Tax dollars are down across the country, and cities are trying to find ways to close the gaps. A report from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal employees estimates more than one million state and local government employees have been cut since February.
Norfolk has also closed several libraries and rec centers to try and manage the budget. The City Manager, Dr. Chip Filer, says everyone needs to be patient in getting those back open.
"We don't what to get into this yo-yo environment where we open things up and then there's a surge and we close them back down," Filer said during a budget briefing in November. "I think if we could get some patience from everyone at this point. We would like to get through the holiday season into January."
As for Pledger, he's trying to remain upbeat about his now uncertain future. "Being knocked down doesn't mean that you're knocked out," he said.
The City's Department of Recreation, Parks, and Open Spaces is holding holding public hearings about the future of the department on Thursday and Friday. Pledger is hoping people will address the layoffs in their public comments.