Local governments grapple with budget uncertainty

Posted at 2:21 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 15:51:17-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Amid the ongoing uncertainty of the coronavirus, local governments are trying to plan for their futures.

Around the country, some are concerned about a provision in the stimulus package that allows cities greater with a population than 500,000 people to directly request aid, while smaller cities have to work with their states.

Two advocacy groups, the National League of Cities and the United State Conference of Mayors, are worried funding won't be evenly handed out, according to the Associated Press. They want clearer guidance from the Dept. of Treasury.

Norfolk is below the population threshold, but City Manager Dr. Chip Filer is confident he can work things out with the state.

"I'm not fearful of that because I think it's in everyone's best interest for the local economies to get functioning again," Filer told News 3 on Tuesday.

His focus has been on trying to balance the budget. Fourth quarter revenues are going to be down with several events and conferences already canceled. Carnival Cruises will not be docking in Norfolk this year, he said.

The city has furloughed part time workers and frozen hiring to try and close the gap.

Related: All signs point to lag in Hampton Roads economy

"I think we're preparing for a pretty weak summer. There's no other way to say that one," said Filer.

Filer and his staff had already prepared a budget for the next fiscal year, but they are anticipating changes.

In Virginia Beach, City Manager Tom Leahy presented his revised budget on Tuesday afternoon.

Filer is hopeful things can get back on track towards the end of the summer and fall. "I think if we can avoid a second outbreak to this virus in the fall-winter, we're looking to bounce back and get back to some semblance of normal by then," he said.

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