Pandemic Has Decimated City Budgets, Forcing Painful Cuts to Payrolls and Essential Services

Washington, DC – As lawmakers in Washington begin negotiations on the next COVID-19 legislative package, jobs and critical services are on the line in cities across America. And today, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) is renewing its previous request for urgent help in the form of direct, flexible assistance for cities of all sizes.

With city budgets ravaged by the response to the pandemic, the leadership of the USCM, led by President and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, has sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them not to leave cities behind.

Earlier this year, more than 300 American mayors signed a detailed budget request of $250 billion, available to all U.S. cities. In the time since, countless American cities have been forced to lay-off and furlough city employees and make cuts to services, including those for public safety. To date, just 38 American cities have qualified for any direct aid, and those that did qualify are unable to use those to resources to offset pandemic-driven budget shortfalls. Without urgent action by Congress even more jobs will be lost and further painful cuts to essential city services will be necessary.

In their letter to Congress, USCM leaders write:

“From the start, cities have been on the front lines of the fight against this disease, coordinating local responses and devoting significant resources to help keep people safe. At the same time, as economies shut down, cities have experienced a precipitous decline in tax revenue – the full impact of which economists expect to grow. Together, these dynamics have decimated city budgets in cities large and small…

To date, most American cities have received no direct assistance at all. That is why we have asked that cities of all sizes be eligible for federal aid, and that it be flexible enough to support the individual budget needs of cities. It is also important to appreciate that these budget shortfalls are not a blue state or a red state challenge. The virus knows no geographic boundaries or party affiliation, and there are budget crises in every state and in cities big and small.”

A full copy of the letter can be found here, and the previous budget request is here.