U.S. cities running out of money due to COVID-19 pandemic

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — America’s cities are running out of money because of the coronavirus crisis. 

The U.S. Conference of Mayors says they’re spending huge amounts on personal protective equipment, testing and first responder overtime while sales and income taxes dry up.

In the last aid package, Congress allocated $150 billion to directly help cities through the pandemic. But that money was only for cities with populations over 500,000.

With money strained, thousands of cities are calling the federal government to send much more to everyone.

Bryan Barnett, mayor of Rochester Hills, Mich. and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, says cities across the country are being starved of the funding they need to survive the pandemic.

“We have cities facing massive revenue shortfalls, increased expenses with no support from the federal government,” Barnett said.

According to Barnett, loss of revenue is putting more than a third of his own city’s services at risk.

“We make $200,000 just from soccer fields. That’s a zero,” he said. “It went from full on to zero overnight.”

Barnett says congress needs to send an additional $250 billion to cities immediately, before they’re forced to cut essential services.

“Folks’ first cuts won’t be public safety, but it won’t take long because those folks are such a large part of our budgets,” he said.

A recent survey found that 88% of U.S. cities expect revenue shortages this year. More than half expect the need to furlough city employees.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) says time is already running out in his district.

“(In Peoria) they’re already talking about laying off 50 firefighters and police officers,” LaHood said. “They don’t have the ability to print money, they don’t have the ability max out a credit card, so we have to acknowledge that and work with them.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who represents Illinois, agrees.

“We need to make sure we get money directly into the local municipality coffers,” she said.

Last week, Democrats tried and failed to attach local and state funding to an emergency plan for small businesses loans. However, negotiations are still underway.

The U.S. Governors Association is also a requesting $500 billion from the federal government. The group estimates states in total are facing a budget shortfall around half a trillion dollars.

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