DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The U.S. Conference of Mayors, including Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, called on Congress and the White House to provide direct funding to cities in the next stimulus bill.
The group said in a press release, and during a press call on Tuesday, the current Senate Republican stimulus proposal has no aid for local governments. Whaley, and mayors Jeff Williams of Arlington, Tx., Van Johnson of Savannah, Ga., and Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh, said the lack of federal aid would be devastating for cities that are taking the brunt of the COVID-19 outbreak and the economic slowdown that has resulted.
Whaley told WDTN.com the city is cutting $9 million this year and $13 million next year. On the line are frontline emergency services, which Whaley said will have to take a hit for the city to make up such a huge hole. This would be police departments, ambulance and EMT services and fire departments.
“We can’t get around that kind of number without police and fire cuts,” Whaley said.
Whaley and the other mayors said the lack of funding, on top of the uncertainty of waiting the last three months for a bill or some kind of funding legislation, has been a problem for cities as they try to decide what services and projects need to be cut. Arlington Mayor Williams said economists and experts he’s spoken with, including Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Rob Kaplan, said the country won’t have a full economic recovery without fiscal assistance for cities. Whaley said the uncertainty is trying because the cities are trying to balance whatever funding impacts they have to take with providing emergency services during a pandemic.
“When we are doing capital expenses or trying to invest in our infrastructure those are issues we plan years and years out,” Whaley said. “The HEROES bill is not just a one-year but a two-year effort for dollars directly to cities. We can provide life and death services during a health pandemic. The typical actions of Washington – moving month to month – is causing a lot of pain when we are trying to lead on the local level.
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