OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and other city and county officials provided a weekly update on their COVID-19 response.
Today’s topic was the financial impact of the pandemic on the entire state and how the city and county plan on making up lost revenue.
Stothert says Omaha is dealing with a lot of revenue loss and that many cities across the country are facing the same. While there’s some federal help available, it’s very specific as to what Douglas County can and can’t spend federal funding on.
The Cares Act provides federal funding for counties and cities with a specific number of residents. Douglas County falls into that category, while Omaha does not.
Stothert and county officials say Douglas County is expected to receive about $160-167 million. It is not yet certain how much of that money will go to Omaha specifically.
This money cannot be used for loss of revenue for counties and cities, only coronavirus-related expenses. Things like personal protective equipment and first responders.
City officials say they’re doing what they can on their end to help the crumbling city budget but it only goes so far without federal aid.
Omaha City Financial Director Steve Curtiss said, “We do have a hiring freeze going, we've canceled anything that's not an emergency sort of spending. We're looking at all contracts that we have to see what kind of flexibility we might have but I think it's pretty clear to everybody that the revenue shortfall, without any federal fix - and there are some discussions about federal fixes out there - if none of those make it through...we could be in a dire situation.”
Douglas County is expected to get half of the about $160 million either today or tomorrow but can’t spend it on coronavirus-related expenses until the federal government lays out guidelines for spending it.
There are talks of another Cares Act that could help. We’ll have more on that tonight at 10 p.m.
You can watch the briefing below: