Coalition of cities asks county to share federal funds

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Carson Mayor Albert Robles is leading a coalition of local cities asking Los Angeles County to share some of the $1.8 billion the county received from the federal government to handle costs dealing with coronavirus. (Courtesy photo)

From 2UrbanGirls

CARSON — A coalition of 28 Southern California cities is demanding the county Board of Supervisors divvy up the $1.8 billion in coronavirus aid the federal government sent to the county and city of Los Angeles.

Carson Mayor Albert Robles has led the efforts to demand the county share the proceeds towards helping the smaller cities balance their budgets.

“If we are all in this together and the pandemic impact and costs are shared, as Mayor (Eric) Garcetti and County Supervisor (Kathryn) Barger have previously stated,” Robles said in a statement issued July 24, “then the financial assistance received under the CARES Act must likewise be shared, just like the burden of the pandemic.”

Both the county and the city of Los Angeles are spending money directly toward the coronavirus. They have supplied shelters at park facilities and created Project Roomkey which many cities around L.A. County fought against because it would bring the homeless to their cities.

Lawndale, which is one of the cities in the coalition, wanted to sue L.A. County for bringing Project Roomkey to the small city.

“On this particular project,” said Lawndale Mayor Robert Pullen-Miles of the hotel, “our position is we feel there are other communities where this type of program is probably more fitting.”

Lawndale went so far as appearing in federal court to defend its position to not house the homeless due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are other direct costs such as providing city and county employees as contact tracers in an effort to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus.

“Like always, small cities are swallowed up by bigger cities,” Lynwood Mayor Aide Castro said. “As part of L.A. County, Lynwood deserves a share of the funds or at the very least, the county should subsidize the cost of public safety for contract cities instead of imposing increased fees during an already tough economic time.”

To be eligible for CARES Act money, cities must have at least 500,000 residents. Los Angeles is the only city in the county to meet that threshold.

School district also are ineligible for CARES Act funds.

“The fact of the matter is our current reality and need to open the school year with distance learning has resulted in unprecedented budgetary consequences, primarily in the area of supporting our most vulnerable of students,” said Compton school board President Micah Ali. “In addition to the need for new training, new device access, new information technology support and other technology-enabling investments, school districts are having to wrestle with new challenges in supporting students with special needs as required by law.

“School districts have yet to receive the full amount of promised funds from the federal government and have therefore been funding the support of their special needs students out of moral imperative and at the expense of other student and teacher programs,” Ali added.

“This reality, plus the fact that there has not been an easing of legal requirements related to special education during the pandemic, leaves school districts in a perfect storm: Lack of financial support for even baseline, pre-COVID-era services, no financial support for enhanced measures to ensure students in SPED programs are not left behind during this era of social distanced learning, and the existence of pre-COVID mandates that make numerous lawsuits and penalties almost impossible for districts to avoid.

The result of this perfect storm is an unsustainable budgetary crisis that will only worsen until we have action by both our federal and state governments.”

2UrbanGirls reached out to Carson City Manager Sharon Landers to determine what direct costs have been spent by the city on the pandemic, but received no response.