USCM report: Cities to remain in recession until next year
Federal assistance is now necessary to prevent economic conditions in the nation’s major cities from deteriorating further, according to a report from the Washington-based U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM). Sixty percent of 158 mayors surveyed in 41 states and Puerto Rico say a targeted program of fiscal assistance is needed to help prevent further drastic budget cuts that translate into losses of personnel and reductions in public services.
Two out of three mayors in cities of all sizes expect budget shortfalls this year, and four out of five project shortfalls for next year, according to USCM. In nearly 27 percent of the surveyed cities, this year’s budget shortfalls amount to 10 percent or more of total (operating and capital) budgets, and in a few of the cities, the shortfalls range from 20 to 30 percent of total budgets.
While more than 86 percent of mayors reported receiving some funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), more than half of the surveyed mayors said their cities’ budget problems are affecting their ability to begin job-creating projects despite having received ARRA money. USCM also has tracked complaints by cities that they were short changed by their states’ departments of transportation in the distribution of ARRA funding. “Mayors know that once ARRA is fully implemented, millions of jobs will be saved or created and lasting benefits will be realized,” said USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran. “But, they also know that the American people are demanding that we save or create more jobs now. It is clear that when stimulus funds go directly to cities, they are put to work immediately and there is no delay in spending.”
USCM has issued a call to action listing areas in which federal assistance is most needed. Read the entire survey and USCM’s call to action on usmayors.org.