July 29, 2020 - Mayor Van R. Johnson, II, recently joined fellow members of the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors for a virtual news conference encouraging Congress to include aid for local governments in its latest COVID-19 relief package.
The current proposal, called the HEALS Act, does not include direct funding for state and local governments facing revenue shortfalls and increased costs caused by COVID-19.
"Our nation's history is one of proud, productive communities," Mayor Johnson said. "Cities, towns and villages have been the backbone of the American economy long before the on-going health and economic crisis. In principle, we are calling for direct, flexible aid from the federal government to state and local governments. In reality, we are asking for a fighting chance."
The City of Savannah is currently facing a more than $13 million budget shortfall, largely due to lost sales tax and hotel/motel tax revenue. The City continues to provide essential services and has not furloughed or laid off any employees during the pandemic.
"Flexibility for previously allocated CARES Act funding is a drop in the bucket," Mayor Johnson said. "Seventy percent of cities did not receive CARES Act funding, and even those that did, it wasn't enough to offset crippled revenue, lost jobs, halted infrastructure projects and more."
Mayor Bill Peduto from Pittsburgh, Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Jeff Williams from Arlington, Texas, Clarence Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities, and Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, participated in Tuesday's news conference.