When this year ends, we won’t be spending a lot of time on the insanity we all had to live through, but instead, we are trying to find an optimistic view of the future.

We are looking forward to the successful distribution of the vaccines to ward off the Covid pestilence, freeing us from the much-ballyhooed fear headlines and television news reports that led off our day for the past ten months. 

Our industry has bravely continued to work under extremely adverse work rules and complete the projects we have before us. Our association has stayed the course on virtually all these challenges in partnership with other trade groups and our unions.

Now we are working on prospects for the future, and while there will be challenges, we will meet them with the same spirit of resolve and unity.

The challenges involve carrying our optimism to city halls and county courthouses throughout our eleven-county trade area. It won’t be easy. 

Many mayors and county supervisors are alarmed by budget cuts forced by the Covid pandemic. They are showing widespread pessimism about the long-term impacts of coping with Covid. The annual Menino Survey of Mayors recently reported on smartcitiesdive.com illustrated this. More than 130 U.S. mayors in cities with populations over 75,000 responded to the questionnaire, including some in southern California.

According to the survey, at least one-third of these big-city mayors see drastic cuts in parks and recreation, schools, mass transit, and roads. Almost all also expect the remote work trend to continue, which could hollow out their city center offices, reducing their property tax takes. Only 36 percent of mayors expect to replace the companies that closed due to Covid, with small businesses taking the major hit

Some of this may be a political response. These mayors are looking for a federal bailout, claiming the $2.3 trillion 2020 CARES Act wasn’t enough to cover their tax and job losses. These big-city mayors said they need more federal money or access to new grant and loan programs. They also want regulatory relief regarding Covid liability, particularly for small businesses, when the new Congress convenes on January 3, 2021.

An additional, survey from the National League of Cities, found that municipal revenues are down 21 percent while expenses have increased 17 percent amid the pandemic. Of those surveyed, 71 percent echoed that their government’s condition requires Congress to pass another aid bill. Their only other option, they say, is to raise taxes locally.

 

By Brendan Slagle, ECA President Email: [email protected]