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Letter to Senator Gardner: Support Funding for Coronavirus Relief

As the US Senate returns to work on the next round of Coronavirus financial relief, APA Colorado is asking Senator Gardner for his support in providing relief to state and local governments. The below letter was sent to Senator Gardner on behalf of the chapter's more than 1,500 members. We are asking members to contact the Senator to express your support for direct and flexible fiscal aid for state and local governments of all sizes. Senator Gardner’s support is critical to passage of a relief bill that includes the support required for municipalities and states.

 

WRITE TO SENATOR GARDNER

 

 

 

 

Dear Senator Gardner:        

Thank you for your strong support for additional emergency funding and flexibility for localities and states. Your efforts to shore up the financial stability of local and state governments at this critical juncture in pandemic response represent important progress toward securing the flexibility and added relief that municipalities and states so urgently require. I write to you on the behalf of the American Planning Association, Colorado Chapter. APA Colorado represents approximately 1,500 planners, planning officials and engaged citizens across Colorado. Our members work throughout Colorado to create thriving communities that expand opportunity for all. As the Senate prepares for its return to Washington, I urge your continued vocal support for direct, flexible funding in the next wave of Coronavirus relief aid.

Planners – whether working directly for municipalities or private entities – keep local government functions running. But community leaders may soon be forced to cut essential planning services, if the Senate does not act soon. We are already hearing from planning directors in both rural and urban communities across Colorado that they’re considering staff cuts or ending contracts for planning services as revenues dry up and response costs continue to rise. Cutting staff means losing the experience, knowledge, and support that communities will need to rebound from this crisis. It also means further delaying the development of critical infrastructure projects - which planners play an integral role – at a time when more than 700 US cities have already elected to delay or cancel infrastructure projects due to budget concerns, according to new research from the National League of Cities. Without the necessary support for planning, a long-lasting recovery may be out of reach.

Delivering flexible, direct fiscal aid will make additional funds provided to states and localities especially effective. As you know all too well, population thresholds were limitations of the CARES Act, which prevented many communities from being able to receive direct support. Communities of all sizesshould not only get direct support, but also have the agency to decide how to deploy emergency funds. Allowing lost revenue to be considered an eligible expense for rescue and relief funding is vital to addressing the fiscal shortfall that threatens all state and local budgets.

Planning is essential to recovery, but we cannot do our jobs if our jobs no longer exist. It’s for these reasons that I ask you to do everything in your power to ensure that additional, flexible relief for communities and states is included in the Senate’s next Coronavirus package.

  Thank you for your service,

Michelle Stephens, AICP

President, American Planning Association, Colorado Chapter

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