Federal COVID funds should be for those in need not to balance our budget

I’m extremely disappointed in what the Mesa City Council and management did today. We received $90 million from the federal government to support people in our community who have been impacted by COVID-19. Instead of putting this money to use in our community to support things like rent/mortgage, food, and utilities for our residents we’re using accounting gimmickry to dump $50 of the $90 million of this money to balance our own budget. The CARES act direction states “Payments must be used only to cover costs that were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020.” So what the Council and Management are doing is paying for our existing public safety budget for the remainder of the year using these COVID funds to the tune of $50 million. Then the money that was allocated previously to public safety is freed up in the budget and can then be extracted back to the general fund and spent on almost anything.

We are in unprecedented times.

  • The unemployment rate in Arizona is now at 12.6%. This is the highest it’s been since modern record-keeping or since 1956.
  • The fed chair anticipates unemployment will peak as high as 25%. To put this in perspective it only reached 24% during the great depression.
  • In the last 9 weeks 38.6 million people have filed for unemployment
  • 8.16% of American’s mortgages are currently in forbearance
  • Pre-existing home sales fell 18% in April

If COVID-19 does not subside it’s grip on our economy soon it will leave a lasting impact on our economy. There will be massive holes in balance sheets of individuals, corporations, and states. The people in our community are going to need this money more than ever to pay for shelter, food, medical expenses, and security. Now is not the time to be increasing our budget to take money from the people who desperately need it to survive.