PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — City leaders are calling on Congress to provide direct federal funding to local governments due to the severe economic impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Mayors nationwide addressed the issue during a joint media call today, including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.
The city is not doing well. On the call with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities, Mayor Peduto said there’s an urgent need for funding here in the city of Pittsburgh.
He says if the city does not receive direct federal funding, there will be significant cuts to next year’s budget.
Today’s call was in response to Senate Republicans rolling out the draft proposal for a $1 trillion coronavirus relief package. Mayors nationwide say Congress neglected to include aid for local governments.
“In a surprise to virtually no one, it dramatically missed the mark,” said Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio. “Local leaders have been sounding the alarm on plummeting revenues for months.”
In the city of Pittsburgh, Mayor Bill Peduto says park and amusement taxes have plummeted to almost zero. Revenue losses are projected at 17% to 20%, totaling more than $100 million.
“We do have the ability to address this year’s budget and feel we will be able to meet payroll by the end of the year without having to furlough workers,” said Peduto.
That’s thanks to a six-year surplus in the city’s operating budget. Come next year, that money will dry up. And with no federal aid, to balance the books without borrowing or increasing taxes, peduto says there will be significant cuts to jobs paid by the city. Essential services like police, fire and EMS among the first to receive cuts.
“We are at a critical juncture. As we look at a future of economic recovery, there will be no recovery if our cities are left to die.”
Peduto says the city will begin putting together next year’s budget over the next two months, and it could take several years to make up for this year’s losses. The Senate GOP proposal has yet to be negotiated with Democrats.