ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7)-- In the city of Roanoke, and across Virginia, the financial impact of COVID-19 is just beginning to come into focus.
Like many businesses, local governments are trying to gauge how deep the downturn will be, and what it will take to weather the crisis, including how much support they can expect from the federal government.
Members of Roanoke City Council came together Monday afternoon for a virtual meeting, and they considered the prospect of substantial cuts in their current budget.
Roanoke isn't budgeting based on the promise of federal aid, but Roanoke Delegate Sam Rasoul says the federal government should speed relief to state and local governments.
Rasoul said they need direct aid, not reimbursements, and more latitude in how they can spend the money that was included in the CARES Act.
"The stimulus package said that the federal government was going to help states and localities," Rasoul said. "And we need those funds to be able to pay for essential services, like law enforcement, teachers and other services that people need, so I hope the federal government will step up quickly."
Senator Tim Kaine provided the following statement Monday afternoon:
“As a former Mayor and Governor, I worked hard to make sure the stimulus package included significant funding for state and local governments, but I know more support is needed to help them address this crisis. I’m urging the Department of Treasury to issue guidance that gives state and local governments maximum flexibility when using the funding from the stimulus package. We want to ensure federal assistance is as helpful as possible to the Commonwealth.”
9th District Congressman Morgan Griffith said he'll be paying close attention to the needs of the state and local governments, but said he believes aid to families and small businesses are the most immediate priorities.
"We'll figure out something, and we may have to help, but it's all going into the national debt, which is troubling," Griffith said. "So we have to be careful that we're not spending money unnecessarily and I think that the state and local governments can hang out a little longer and see where we go."
Roanoke's best guess is that city revenues will take a seven million dollar hit, requiring cuts of almost four percent in the current budget.
City leaders say the impact will be felt in the next budget, and perhaps in the year after that as well.
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