GMA Cares Because Cities Are Essential

October 12, 2020

By Larry Hanson, GMA Executive Director

This article is part of GMA's Viewpoints catalog, a grouping of opinion pieces from the GMA magazine, speeches and other editorials.

This editorial was written in September 2020.

As we navigate through these unprecedented times, I continue to be so impressed by the leadership and dedication of our city officials.

As I think about this year from March forward, it’s hard to believe what we have faced as a nation, here in Georgia and in our individual cities. It is remarkable how our city leaders have stepped up to provide essential services to keep our cities strong and vibrant and residents protected and encouraged. I am confident that the public has a new sense of appreciation for the role local governments play in their lives. Our city employees are all essential, and they have responded to the call of duty in these dangerous times, just as each of you have. You are to be commended, and I trust that local citizens appreciate all you have done and continue to do in leading your city.

At GMA, with the leadership of our officers, executive committee and board of directors, we have remained committed to serving you in these challenging times. Our service includes our efforts to negotiate the sharing of CARES Act funding with the state, to weekly calls with leading healthcare experts, multiple webinars designed to help city leaders successfully navigate this new normal and review and guidance of the governor’s executive orders.

I’m very proud we were able to negotiate with the governor’s office to get a written commitment for the state to share 45% of its CARES funding with local governments. This is the maximum amount allowed by the CARES Act and amounts to a commitment of $1.23 billion in funding for cities and counties. As you know, phase one, which was 30% of the total $1.23 billion, was completed on Sept. 1, and I am pleased to report that approximately $360 million in funding was provided to cities and counties based on population and by reimbursement. We worked hard to get the state to allow reimbursement for all public safety costs from March 1-Sept. 1, which helped many of you gain your full share. In fact, 99.4% of phase one funds were disbursed to cities and counties.

We are hard at work now negotiating with the state for the next round(s) which will include the 70% remainder of the funds. Per Gov. Kemp’s June 29 letter to mayors, “As Phase 1 funding is exhausted, additional program and disbursement criteria for the remainder of the $1.23 billion will be developed and evaluated to ensure flexibility in responding to COVID.” We will continue to advocate on your behalf for federal funding to support your city.

Please remember that GMA remains honored to serve and ready to support you in any way we can. We are proud to see the selfless and dedicated service of our city leaders as you demonstrate your commitment to the ideals of public service.

Please stay safe, healthy and resilient and call on GMA to serve you.

This article appears in the September/October edition of Georgia’s Cities Magazine.

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