Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times
U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) and a bipartisan coalition of nine local mayors, including Dana Point Mayor Richard Viczorek, reiterated their call on Thursday, May 7, for direct federal funding to stabilize smaller counties, cities, and towns—specifically, those with populations under 500,000.
Their call supports several letters Rep. Levin and House colleagues sent to Congressional leadership requesting funding for small municipalities, which are struggling with costs and declining revenues due to COVID-19.
“The essential public services that cities provide are critical for our health and security, yet many smaller cities have been cut off from federal aid and they are desperate for a lifeline,” said Rep. Levin. “While the CARES Act included funding for states and large cities, it wasn’t enough, and it’s time for House and Senate leadership to rectify that.”
The next coronavirus relief package that Congress passes must provide more money to cities, and it must set aside funding for cities with fewer than 500,000 residents, Levin said.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act created a Coronavirus Relief Fund with $150 billion for payments to state, local, and tribal governments confronting the COVID-19 outbreak. However, localities with populations under 500,000 cannot receive the funds directly.
“The loss of revenue to even well-run cities such as Dana Point due to the government-mandated shut-down of our economy has been substantial, which in turn makes it increasingly challenging to provide the city’s core services for our residents,” Viczorek said to Dana Point Times. “I believe it’s important and will continue to work with elected leaders and staff of both parties at all levels of government to do what is best for our residents.”
The CARES Act allowed no funding for cities like ours to use for such things as police services, public works and infrastructure or to maintain our citizens’ quality of life, Viczorek said.
Rep. Levin says he hopes to pass additional relief legislation with direct stabilization funding to localities with populations under 500,000, and to lower the threshold for direct funding through the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
“We have worked day and night throughout this crisis to maintain critical public services and protect the health, safety, and economic security of our people,” stated the letter signed by the mayors. “As the pandemic erodes our traditional sources of local revenue, we have risen to the occasion to serve the individuals and families who call our cities home. We need the federal government to step up.”
The coalition of mayors also includes San Juan Capistrano Mayor Troy Bourne and San Clemente Mayor Pro Tem Laura Ferguson. The cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Oceanside, Solana Beach and Vista were also represented.
“We are calling on Congress and the President to provide direct aid to our cities in order to offset lost revenues and unexpected costs during this unprecedented time. The health and well-being of our people depend on it,” the letter states.