Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) Executive Director David M. Sanko recently announced that the executive directors of Pennsylvania’s local government associations have sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf calling on him to share federal COVID dollars with Pennsylvania’s local governments.
“On behalf of the commonwealth’s local governments, which have been on the front lines during the COVID pandemic, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Commissioners, and the Pennsylvania Municipal League are urging Gov. Tom Wolf to distribute an equitable share of the federal $4.9 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money that the commonwealth received to counties and municipalities, as the majority were not eligible for direct federal payments. These direct payments were reserved for communities over 500,000 population, which is a small minority of the state’s local governments.”
“Failure to take action to adequately share these dollars with local government will result in unnecessary property taxes on Pennsylvanians at a time when they can least afford it,” Sanko said.
The following excerpts summarize the letter:
“The CARES Act relies upon the states to allocate distributions and reimbursements to the vast majority of local entities. While the act assigned $4.9 billion to the commonwealth, there was only $3.9 billion left after the direct large group share. We urge the state to allocate an equitable portion of this remaining CARES Act allocation to municipalities that will not receive direct federal payments.
Local officials and employees are on the front lines responding to this pandemic. Public safety like fire, police, and EMS, child protection, elections, and critical water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure are all necessary to keep life-sustaining goods and services flowing. While we are confident that the CARES Act was intended to support state and local governments, there was a disconnect in the federal act’s provisions to equitably distribute the funding to local governments with less than half a million in population. This is virtually all of Pennsylvania! In fact, 60 of 67 counties, as well as all but one municipality, were not specifically included.
We thank the governor for recognizing local governments as partners during this time and note that counties and municipalities, like the state, are seeing their operating revenues plummet while continuing to provide, and even curtail, critical public services and protections. Our members are anticipating substantial revenue declines and increased expenses due to the Covid-19 crisis. Some local governments are seeing immediate budget shortfalls due to delayed payments and reduced projected revenues resulting from income losses.
We are asking for the governor’s assistance and leadership to help these local governments as they experience cash flow issues and unbudgeted expenses due to this emergency. These remaining communities are not receiving direct payments and are not eligible for tax credits or federal loan programs.
We stand ready to participate in a local government work group to define overall allocations and what qualifies and does not, as well as timing of distributions to assist local governments in the pandemic’s mitigation phase.”