Lobby group seeks more funding for municipalities
BY KEN KRALL, WXPR
Wisconsin communities face a $400 million budget shortfall due to the pandemic and a lobby group is calling for more aid.
The President of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities is calling on Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation to support the cities and villages that provide the police, fire, ambulance and other essential services.
Zach Vruwink is working as administrative consultant to the city of Rhinelander. He said the federal stimulus money has helped many, but not cities and villages. He said the loss of tax revenue due to the COVID-19 outbreak leaves budgets stressed.
“We’ve got fixed costs associated with providing services at the local level,” Vruwink said. “We’re asking for Congress to consider the support package to enable municipalities like Rhinelander and other places to receive the support they need to continue to fund operations at the level we’re currently providing.”
The CARES Act specifically excluded support for the loss of sales tax revenues to local governments. Vruwink said that left local services hurting.
“Consumers were spending less over the course of the pandemic this year. Wisconsin cities and villages are seeing the Governor’s directives to various departments at the state level. I’m very concerned what impacts might be coming for funding local government.”
Vruwink said those funding reductions will have a “ripple effect,” forcing cuts in local government services and harm to local economies for the next two or three years.
Vruwink is the former mayor of Wisconsin Rapids.
President Trump issued an executive order providing some government relief, but Congress still remains deadlocked on a larger package that could include more money for the unemployed.