Cities fear losing sales tax revenue

January 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
In one day there were a reported 50,000 layoffs. Several big-name companies announced cuts on Monday with the biggest lost from Caterpillar, which is eliminating 20,000 positions.

Another big hit came from Home Depot. It announced they're cutting 7,000 positions and shutting down its specialty spin-off stores.Those closures, along with the numerous other store shutdowns, are having a potentially devastating effect on the communities they serve.

The fact that Home Depot is closing its design center stores was disappointing news for Ying Long of Richmond. She's a new homeowner and shops at the Concord location often.

"Because this store has many, many different designs," said Long.

Home Depot's Design Center, along with Yardbirds and Expo stores will be closing their doors for good in two months, affecting 7,000 employees nationwide.

Cities like Concord that rely on these big retailers for revenue now have to brace for sizeable dents in their budget. Concord, for instance, had already seen stores like Circuit City go under.

"We've been alarmed, and we've revised our projections for next year just recently," said Concord City Manager Daniel Keen.

Keen said not only will there now be fewer jobs in the city, but less sales and property taxes as well. Thirty-seven percent of Concord's budget is from sales taxes and 29 percent is from property taxes.

"We are cutting a lot of expenditures. We've eliminated a lot of vacant positions and some part-time positions," said Keen.

Concord city leaders know this latest round of layoffs likely won't be the last. They've been talking to companies to see how they're faring during these tough economic times, so the city knows what to expect in the months and years ahead.

As for 7,000 laid-off employees, they will have first dibs on any job openings at parent company Home Depot, while those who don't get placed will receive two-months pay and a lump sum payment for medical costs up to one year.

One employee ABC7 talked to is taking the news hard.

"Why do I have to lose my job? I work so hard for this country and I should be by myself? I'm a single person. How can I survive, huh?" said Rubina Hovsepian, a Home Expo employee.

Now there are many more victims of the economic downturn.