San Jose receives $ 212 million in federal COVID funding
Washington, DC – San Jose and Santa Clara County are expected to receive around $ 212 million and $ 374 million, respectively, through the US bailout to help offset the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think if you talk to the residents who won’t lose their business or their home, they’ll think it’s a big deal,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren told the San José Spotlight. “I have heard from people who are very grateful. People pay taxes all their lives and now when they need help they get it. “
The San Jose Democrat said the funds would stimulate the economy, boost COVID-19 prevention efforts, support workers and businesses, and protect government employees and departments from budget cuts.
The US bailout, a massive $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief program signed in March, provides a total of $ 350 billion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments. California’s budget – which was already doing much better than expected – will receive a staggering cash infusion of $ 27 billion.
A modified version of the formula used for Federal Block Grants for Community Development was applied to determine the amount of relief for individual municipal governments. Local governments will receive the money in two parts, with half of the payments starting in May and the other half arriving about 12 months later, according to the US Department of the Treasury.
In a statement to the San José Spotlight, Mayor Sam Liccardo said he appreciates the dedication and persistence of federal leaders who have fought to support local governments.
“These relief funds will provide the funds needed to increase our emergency rental assistance, expand transport infrastructure, digitally connect families and create paid employment opportunities for a living,” he said.
Funding for state and local governments was among the plan’s most conflicting provisions. Republican lawmakers objected, with some dubbing it a “blue state bailout,” they said was mostly needed in Democrat-ruled cities and states that have imposed tighter closures.
Lofgren objected to this notion.
“There is no proof for this,” she said. “They just throw this stuff in the wind.”
Some local officials are grateful that more federal funds are on the way.
John Tucker, a union representative for the local branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said officials already had enough on their plate this year without having to worry about the safety of the workplace. employment.
“Many haven’t been able to take advantage of this work-from-home status,” Tucker said. “In most cases, our members were essential workers and were confronted with the virus on a daily basis to make the city function. It has certainly been stressful.
The San Jose Fire Department has also had a heartbreaking year, according to Matt Tuttle, president of Local 230 of the San Jose Fire Department. He said more than 60 firefighters had been infected with COVID-19 and several had to be hospitalized. Firefighters also faced a record-breaking wildfire season.
“Many fire departments across the country have been forced to downsize and shut down their devices to overcome the financial challenges facing cities,” Tuttle said. “The federal funding that came to help cities get back on their feet saved countless jobs, which was a very big concern for us as a union.
But Tuttle is concerned about exactly how the last allocation of federal funds will be spent.
“I’m concerned about how our city leaders and elected officials will treat and recognize our outdated staffing levels and (if they’re going to) invest properly in prioritizing the fire service,” he said.
San Jose is in the process of determining how to use the money from the US bailout.
According to Jim Shannon, the city director’s budget manager, the proposed operating budget for 2021-2022 sets aside $ 45 million from the plan to correct an ongoing general fund deficit of $ 38.3 million, in no longer continue to fund some previously paid “one-on-one” programs. as a function of time. “
In addition, the proposed operating budget includes $ 2.5 million from the US bailout to cover a shortfall in the Convention and Cultural Affairs Fund, which captures the revenues and costs associated with the operation. from the city’s convention center and other facilities financed by hotel taxes.
The city held a recent economic recovery study session, Shannon said, and the city manager’s office plans to issue a budget addendum next week with recommendations based on the session’s comments.
San Jose City Council has set several priorities, including education, child care, nonprofits, small businesses, emergency housing, garbage collection in homeless settlements and ensuring that the city can support a multi-year recovery effort.
“These allocations will be reviewed and updated as the city continues to engage the community and our service delivery partners, and as we learn more about the eligible uses of US bailout funding,” he said. Shannon said.
In a statement last week, Lofgren praised officials across the state. She said Californians were relying on teachers, first responders, public health officials and other government employees during the pandemic.
“These workers mobilized and kept our communities afloat,” she said. “We owe them a debt of gratitude, and the least we can do is stop them from losing their jobs.”
Contact Katie King at [email protected] or follow @KatieKingCST on Twitter.