April 02, 2020

Congressman Neguse Calls for Future COVID-19 Relief Packages to Include Direct Funding for Small Localities

Washington D.C.—Today Congressman Joe Neguse led an effort along with Andy Levin (MI-09), Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), and Tom Malinowski (NJ-07) and the support of over 100 House Members requesting that future COVID-19 response packages include stabilization funding specifically for localities with populations under 500,000.

While the CARES Act that was signed by the President included a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, the legislation did not allow for localities with populations under 500,000 to receive stabilization funds directly.

“From Estes Park to Fort Collins, Jamestown to Boulder, local communities throughout the 2nd Congressional District are in need of direct assistance to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “I fought incredibly hard to remove the population limit in the CARES Act and was disappointed to see it included in the final bill. We must ensure that every community in Colorado has the needed-relief and funds to equip our communities and recover from this public health emergency.”

“The City of Fort Collins, a community of 175,000 residents, strongly urges Congress to provide stabilization aid directly to municipalities using the existing CDBG allocation structure as a part of the next proposed economic aid package,” saidFort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell. “The minimum population requirement needs to be removed from the current limitation number of 500,000 persons in order for Fort Collins to receive important recovery dollars that can address the devastating impacts of COVID-19 in our community.” 

“I fully support and applaud Congressman Neguse’s efforts to include future COVID-19 funding to small communities,” said Estes Park Mayor Todd Jirsa. “Future funding would ensure that critical community services  would continue uninterrupted and that this community could emerge from the current crisis with the ability to recover and prosper.”

“Jamestown has a small part time staff and limited resources to keep up with demand during this emergency.  We want to be able to keep our community informed in a timely manner and ensure that our Emergency Medical volunteers continue to have access to training and personal protective equipment,” said Jamestown Mayor Kenneth Lenarcic. “At present there is no direct provision for towns like Jamestown in the 150 billion dollar state and local stabilization fund and I fear that the funding issues for small towns like ours will not be addressed in time.”

“Local governments like Boulder are best situated to learn and respond to challenges faced by the community in midst of the COVID crisis,” said Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver. “We appreciate the overall recognition of this fact by the inclusion of state and local funds in the CARES Act. However, we ask that future funding not be limited only to very largest governments, but that it include direct allocation to medium-sized governments like Boulder and that it provide the flexibility needed to ensure that it can provide the essential community services most needed. Our partnership with the federal government has never been so important as it is now and we appreciate Congressman Neguse’s leadership in ensuring that future federal aid recognizes the full potential of this relationship.” 

 “Like their larger neighbors, these smaller counties, cities, and towns have faced enormous costs while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. These costs include deploying timely public service announcements to keep Americans informed, rapidly activating emergency operations, readying employees for telework to keep services running, and more,” reads the letter from Neguse and others, “As you work to craft the next package to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge you to include direct stabilization funding to localities with populations under 500,000, or to lower the threshold for direct funding through the Coronavirus Relief Fund.”

The text of the letter is below and the signed version can be found here.

 

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Dear Speaker Pelosi:

We are grateful for your tireless work to address the needs of all Americans struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for your understanding of the tremendous burdens that have been borne by localities as they work to respond to this crisis and keep their populations safe. However, we are concerned that the COVID-19 relief packages considered thus far have not provided direct funding to stabilize smaller counties, cities, and towns—specifically, those with populations under 500,000. As such, we urge you to include direct stabilization funding to such localities in the next COVID-19 response bill, or to lower the threshold for direct funding through the Coronavirus Relief Fund to localities with smaller populations.

Many of us represent districts containing no or few localities with populations above 500,000. Like their larger neighbors, though, these smaller counties, cities, and towns have faced enormous costs while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. These costs include deploying timely public service announcements to keep Americans informed, rapidly activating emergency operations, readying employees for telework to keep services running, and more. This work is essential to keeping our constituents safe and mitigating the spread of the coronavirus as effectively as possible. 

We fear that, without targeted stabilization funding, smaller localities will be unable to continue providing these critical services to our constituents at the rate they are currently. 

We applaud you for including a $200 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund as part of H.R. 6379, the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act—$50 billion more than the Senate package provides. However, we are concerned that, in both the House and Senate bills, localities with populations under 500,000 cannot receive stabilization funds directly. As you work to craft the next package to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge you to include direct stabilization funding to localities with populations under 500,000, or to lower the threshold for direct funding through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. There’s precedent for a lower threshold. Currently, localities with populations of at least 50,000 are eligible to receive funding through the Community Development Block Grant program. We believe this funding will allow smaller counties, cities and towns in our districts to continue the tremendous work they are doing to protect our constituents during this difficult time.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. We stand ready to work with you as we continue to provide much-needed relief for the American people.

Sincerely,

[Members of Congress]