Will Congress Deliver the Relief Communities Need to Avoid Fiscal Calamity?

"Every municipality — regardless of size — will be impacted."

That was the message planners attending NPC20 @ Home heard from National League of Cities (NLC) CEO Clarence Anthony in his keynote remarks detailing the economic fallout cities, towns, and villages are already experiencing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Providing further context for this sobering outlook, Matt Chase, CEO of the National Association of Counties (NACo), added that counties are facing a staggering $144 billion in lost revenue over the next 18 months, according to new research from NACo.

The combination of skyrocketing costs for essential services and the precipitous drop in local government revenues because of COVID-19 will undoubtedly impact municipal employees and services — including planners employed by or contracted with municipalities.

While fiscal forecasts for communities are alarming, both leaders pointed to additional federal aid as one way to safeguard municipal employees vulnerable to severe budget cuts. But getting the kind of big, immediate relief and rescue funding communities need to respond to the historic economic downturn requires a broad-based coalition of advocates — including planners — uniting around one central message.

Congress must quickly provide local governments and states with more direct, flexible funding — our communities' essential services and the hardworking employees who provide them depend on it.

We Need You

APA is closely working with NACo, NLC, and other national organizations representing the interests of local and state governments to make sure that our federal partners in Congress understand the essential role that states and localities play in meeting both immediate response needs and laying the groundwork for recovery.

The road to recovery and rebuilding runs through local governments and communities. This fight is not over — but it is going to require that planners from every community speak out now.

As communities prepare for uncertain fiscal futures, planners should bear in mind Anthony's closing remarks, "Cities won't go back. We will go forward."

Historically, cities have found creative ways to overcome major hardship, but recovery can take many forms and timelines. Federal policy is pivotal in supporting communities as the engine of recovery, and making sure that recovery is swift and includes all.

Watch the Conference Keynote

Watch the entire NPC20 @ Home keynote — On the Frontlines of Response and Recovery — on APA Learn.

Top image: Photo by Stephanie Jenkins from Pixabay.

About the Author
Emily Pasi is APA's public affairs manager.

May 7, 2020

By Emily Pasi