For the second straight budget cycle, the pandemic is rearing its ugly head in Alexandria.
In a virtual town hall last night, Mayor Justin Wilson offered a look at the behind-the-scenes back and forth between local, state and federal agencies as the city works to get some assistance to help cover an estimated $41 million shortfall.
Last year, the city was the recipient of $23.9 million in CARES Act funding, which was put to use in things like rent and food assistance and couldn’t be used to cover other city expenses. The new federal assistance does not include local or state support, though, Wilson said, though he is hopeful a Democratic majority in the Senate can help to amend that.
“The Heroes Act adopted by house did include $87 million for Alexandria, which would have nearly replaced our estimated loss of revenue that we had assumed because of COVID,” Wilson said.
Last April, the pandemic forced Council to approve a drastically reduced Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
Beyond the immediate budget gap, concerns linger that it could be several years before the city’s economy fully recovers from a pandemic that permanently shut down businesses across the city and led to record unemployment that is gradually returning to normal levels.
“Right now, we’re facing a $41 million gap in the budget we will be working to adopt this spring,” Wilson said. “It’s a significant gap for us and we have more concerns down the line.”
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