Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole resigned Friday, citing divisions over drastic budget cuts as the novel coronavirus decimates the wealthy beach city’s tax revenue.
With restaurants, bars and stores closed since mid-March to prevent the spread of the virus, city officials are projecting a $72-million shortfall through the end of June and another $154-million shortfall for the following year.
Cole has been under fire by some residents who accuse him of rushing to cut programs and city staff. A petition demanding the removal of Cole and Assistant City Manager Katie Lichtig received more than 2,800 signatures.
“Rick and Katie are abusing power while the city is in a state of emergency and also are exploiting the emergency to blame the coronavirus for the dire financial situation we are in,” the petition states.
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