DENVER (CBS4) – The Regional Transportation District Board of Directors voted 11-4 on Tuesday night to approve the agency’s 2021 budget. The $1.2 billion budget includes 399 layoffs, 14% of the RTD workforce, and the elimination of 300 vacant positions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to the RTD Board of Directors, Gov. Jared Polis asked for the layoffs to be delayed. The agency said the governor’s request would be a challenge.
“The staffing reductions are factored into the budget that the Board just passed, aligning with the staffing that is necessary to support a much reduced level of service that will continue,” said RTD spokesperson Pauletta Tonilas. “The CARES Act funding allowed us to keep staff employed through the end of this year, as intended. But that funding will be expended by the end of the year.”
RTD plans to notify employees of layoffs in a two-tiered approach.
“Some represented or union staff will be notified in early December so they won’t need to vote their work in December for the January service change. But they will continue to work. Other staff will receive notification in early January, but all separations will be effective in January,” said Tonilas.
The 2021 budget also includes furloughs and salary cuts to top-earning employees outside the union. RTD workers making more than $120,000 will see a 3.5% pay cut, and those making more than $180,000 will see a 7.5% pay cut.
RTD’s new general manager and CEO, Debra Johnson, said she is prepared to stand in solidarity with employees by taking a temporary pay cut to her $315,000 annual salary.
“I will stand with the men and women of the organization and have my salary temporarily adjusted as we navigate the year ahead,” Johnson said in September.
The $629 million operating plan included in the budget is down 14% from RTD’s 2020 budget. The agency is currently operating at about 60% of its service level before the COVID-19 pandemic.