While we can't assist you on the ground as you work—sometimes up to 20 hours a day—to keep your communities safe and functioning, we do strive to support you in hundreds of ways each and every day. One of the concerns that I hear most broadly and deeply from my local government colleagues all over the world is how revenue disruptions—and the inevitable budget cuts that follow—from the COVID-19 crisis will affect how and whether we can sustainably restore our communities. In a piece that I wrote for The Hill this week—a publication that goes to every U.S. Congressional and White House office—I indicated that “local government creativity and courage has remained abundant, but funding has not. Just as the nation begins to consider reopening, rising COVID-response costs are forcing U.S. communities to lay off the very staff that will be the frontline of the economic recovery.”
In the media and through our advocacy efforts, we are asking that our federal partners:
- Reimburse all local governments for both their lost revenue and increased COVID-19 spending.
- Suspend the requirement that local governments pay for COVID-related FEMA grants.
- Give local governments the same tax credits that Congress provided to the private sector to offset the expense of emergency paid leave.
In addition to the Op-Ed, I sent a letter to congressional leaders and ICMA has joined with other state and local government organizations to advocate on your behalf. We ask too that you make your voices heard with your U.S. House and Senate members. Nothing is more powerful than the stories you are telling and your unique perspectives.
In addition to recovery funding, we are asking for clarity on health and safety standards as you move to reopen your communities. With all the competing forces at play—from well-meaning baseball coaches to struggling small business—it’s imperative that communities are able to enforce the directives coming from federal and state authorities.
We continue to provide guidance, toolkits, templates, and other content on the coronavirus resource section of our website. And we’ll continue to offer free webinars on topics helpful to you; and we’d like to hear from you on topics that we may be missing.
I’d also like to highlight the new member community ICMA Connect. We just released an app version and have more than 2,300 members already connecting, with discussions ranging from cost-cutting measures to virtual online building inspections.
We continue to thank you for your service to your communities and to this profession, and we will continue to strive to do our part to serve you as you so unselfishly serve others.
As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts, and if you have ideas for other ways we can support your efforts, send your suggestions to COVID19@icma.org.