What Local Leaders Are Saying About Lack of Local Government Aid in the Senate’s Coronavirus Relief Package

July 29, 2020 - (8 min read)

Washington, D.C. — Following the Senate’s unveiling of the HEALS Act, which includes no aid to local governments, municipal leaders from across the country made their voices heard on the vital need for Congress to support cities, towns and villages facing unprecedented budgetary challenges as a result of the bipartisan shutdown of local communities and economies:

“We are in a situation that knows no politics – the coronavirus does not choose red states, blue states, big cities, small cities. It is a situation that affects us all. Our economies won’t be able to come back if we aren’t able to afford the basic functions of local government. Anywhere from 17%-20% of the revenues we received last year to run our government will not be there this year. This year, nearly $100 million of $600 million will not be there. This will mean cuts – core cuts to our city’s budget and essential services. If the Senate is serious about being able to fund police, then they have to be serious about funding the cities that pay their salaries. What is the Senate’s priority? Is it economic rebirth and growth? Is it being able to ensure that public safety jobs are there in January? Is it the economic recovery of a country? And if it is, what are they doing to make sure those priorities are being held?” —Bill Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“The Senate’s stimulus proposal must include funding for cities to avoid a further downward spiral of the San Antonio economy. The pandemic has already caused a close to $200 million shortfall in FY20 and a projected $109 million budget shortfall for FY 2021 and FY 2022. We have been wise fiscal stewards – we’ve used the prior federal funding for emergency response and community needs such as, health response, housing, small business support, and digital inclusion. We need Congress to act now and provide direct emergency financial assistance to state and local governments to continue the basic city services that are needed by our residents now more than ever.” —Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, Texas

“Our revenue continues to drop, our expenses continue to rise, and our people continue to lose their jobs. Rebuilding local economies will be impossible unless we rebuild local governments. Despite the fact that the coronavirus is showing no signs of slowing down, this legislation turns its back on the very elected officials that are being asked to respond to this crisis. A strong local economy can’t be built on a foundation that doesn’t include public safety. We urge congress to act quickly and create a real national strategy, one that gives resources to cities. Cities are the backbone of the American economy. Congress cannot afford to continue to ignore their needs.” —Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, Ohio

“Cities, towns, and villages have been the backbone of the American economy and our hometowns are at risk. We cannot keep fighting Congress and the Administration on much-needed local aid when we are too busy fighting economic ruin. In principle, we’re asking for direct and flexible aid for local governments. In reality, all we’re asking for is a fighting chance. Flexibility for previously allocated CARES Act funding is just a drop in the bucket. We are looking for a full pail of water. Weeks may go by fast in Washington without getting much done, but in Savannah and in many other cities, each day matters. We need direct, flexible support right now. Communities are desperate for recovery and a triumphant return to being the backbone of America’s economy.” —Van Johnson, Mayor of Savannah, Georgia

“I choose to believe that there is no way the Senate will move forward without funding our cities. We have heard so many good things from our Senators. This issue does not need to become a Republican or Democratic issue, it’s hurting red states and blue states. Here in Texas, we had 97 mayors who came together urging our Congressional delegation to support our cities. Our economies are getting hammered by this virus, and what Congress does now is going to have a huge impact on how we recover. Pure and simple, flexibility is not enough, and not even close. This is about our jobs, this is about protecting essential city services, and it’s about our economy. We need to have direct, flexible assistance coming to our cities. We all want a V-shaped return to our economy, but that’s not going to be possible without support for cities. We need Congress to not leave cities behind, and I’m urging our lawmakers to support our cities that will drive our recovery while we work to get this virus under control. There will be long lasting consequences if we don’t” —Jeff Williams, Mayor of Arlington, Texas

“It is disheartening to hear that Senator McConnell has chosen not to include any funding for state and local governments in the next round of Federal assistance. Cities across the US are struggling to create and adjust budgets due to reductions in taxes as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Nationwide, sales of vehicles, home furnishings, electronics, appliances and clothing have seen significant reductions, and fuel sales at gasoline stations are down nearly 40% thus reducing taxes which are desperately needed to maintain infrastructure. Small cities like ours across the nation desperately need the support of our Federal leadership to ensure we can continue to provide necessary services to our residents.” —Mark Shepherd, Mayor of Clearfield, Utah

“For a community heavily dependent upon tourism and hospitality, the lack of federal funding would be absolutely devastating in our quest to build the community we deserve. We’re in limbo right now because 90% of our residents live in a county that received direct CARES Act funding without any mandate to share it with the cities. The state has created a funding formula for cities and counties that did not receive direct funding, but most of our city has been excluded. While other municipalities throughout the state are planning for almost $175.00 per resident of funding, our citizens have been relegated to second-class status. Our county has determined 14 cities should split $2.5 million; roughly $4.00 per resident. It is not fair and it is not equitable. The residents of College Park are doing their best to stay afloat in this pandemic. Without direct federal funding, it is as if we have to operate with an additional weight around our necks.” —Bianca Motley Broom, Mayor of College Park, Georgia

“I am disappointed to learn that currently there are no funds for state and local governments included in the Senate’s proposal for a final coronavirus relief package. The pandemic is affecting communities across the nation and cities and towns are on the front lines of coordinating the response. Our revenue shortfall could be as high as 20%, thereby receiving about 80% of our anticipated revenues, but yet we have to respond to 100% of the 911 calls and emergency responses. Without direct aid from the federal government, these communities will disproportionately shoulder the burden of the economic impacts of the pandemic.” —Greg Caton, City Manager of Grand Junction, Colorado

“Arizona’s senators represent 91 cities and towns. To date, only three cities in our state have received direct relief. Phoenix, Mesa, and Tucson are using this lifeline of funds to help residents and innovate solutions to the largest public health threat of modern times. Every senator from every state must know that cities and towns are on the front lines of the crisis we are experiencing. Passing this aid measure will not only save lives but livelihoods.” —Lauren Kuby, Councilmember, Tempe, Arizona

“Despite all the challenges this pandemic has caused our cities, we have collected trash, responded to fires, fixed broken water mains, and helped our businesses survive. Yet, the Senate proposal includes zero funding to help cities maintain core services in the latest and perhaps last coronavirus relief package,” said League of California Cities President John F. Dunbar. “The pandemic has left California cities with a $7 billion dollar revenue shortfall projected over two years and millions in unplanned expenses. It already has resulted in losses of key city workforce and programs for our residents. Providing direct and flexible funding to local governments in this package is critical to help cities continue and sustain core services as well as support public health and economic recovery in our communities.” —John Dunbar, Mayor of Yountville, California and President of the League of California Cities

“In Shoreline, revenue from sales tax and other sources is down 16%, or more than $7 million dollars due to the COVID-19 crisis. Even though we have less money, cities have to respond to people’s increased need for assistance with utility bills, housing, food and other basic needs. We have to help our businesses as they struggle to weather this severe economic storm. Our communities demand and deserve this help. Unlike the federal government, cities are required to have balanced budgets. The result is an immediate need for funding to serve our communities. Absent federal relief, people will see decreased support for basic needs right when they need them most.” —Will Hall, Mayor of Shoreline, Washington



The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people across the country. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.