Mayors discuss need for financial aid

Mayors discuss need for financial aid
July 29
13:14 2020

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, tax revenues continue to decline in cities and towns across the state. And last week a group of mayors held a conference call to persuade lawmakers to pass the latest pandemic aid bill. 

It’s no secret that the pandemic has put a financial strain on the state’s economy without an end in sight. During the conference call hosted by the Triad Food and Beverage Coalition, mayors from Asheville, High Point, Lexington, Kinston, and Salisbury said without substantial financial aid soon, they will have to make cuts to services that communities rely on. 

Lexington Mayor Newell Clark said although we’re four months into the pandemic, “We’ve seen little progress made in terms of controlling the spread.” He said at this point, we should be talking about expanding contact tracing and relief for citizens; instead, leaders across the state have been faced with the harsh reality that “…we find ourselves talking about shortfall … We’re all looking at those cuts we might have to make in terms of essential services that our citizens need,” Clark said. 

Clark said the City of Lexington is expecting a $500,000 loss in earnings. To make up for lost revenue, he said city officials had to take $1 million from the fund balance. Fund balance represents the sum of all the annual surpluses or deficits that have been accumulated.

“We’re seeing about a $500,000 loss in revenue and that hits our services pretty hard,” Clark said. “I think that it’s important that the Senate hear us and they do act swiftly to pass this $1 trillion relief for cities and states and towns and our schools as well. I think it’s important that folks understand this is not a partisan issue at all, this is not Republican, this is not Democrat.”

Mayor Esther Manheimer said although they don’t have the final statistics for the fiscal year that ended last month, Asheville is expecting a $5 million loss in revenue and another $3 million loss in the current fiscal year. She said the shortfall had led to hiring freezes for open positions and other cuts as well. 

Manhiemer said due to the pandemic, the demand for public services has increased but tax revenue has gone down, which is why lawmakers need to act urgently. She said, “This week the Senate is back in Washington and I would urge them to make this priority number one.

“We still have a duty to provide essential services to residents. Now we’re having to make decisions about which services to cut. And when do we officially begin? Our residents expect first responders to respond when they call them … they expect their trash to be picked up,” she continued. “Without these services and the public service workers who provide them, we will not be able to cope with the pandemic or safely reopen the economy.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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