Guest Columnist

Our cities are in danger of bankruptcy, warn Iowa's mayors

Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart delivers the state of the city address during the annual League of Women Voters of Linn Cou
Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart delivers the state of the city address during the annual League of Women Voters of Linn County luncheon at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

We are writing on behalf of our constituents, as concerned Iowans and fellow elected officials who are working to put the interests of our communities ahead of politics during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis.

Our cities have seen first hand the impact COVID-19 has had on Iowans. People have gotten sick. Some have tragically passed away. All of us have seen the life we have known come to halt.

We stand on the front lines, ensuring the critical services Iowans rely upon remain in place. However, with the suspension of our daily life, we are headed toward a moment even more critical than the recession of 2008-2009. Our cities are preparing for significant revenue shortfalls, with some initial estimates putting revenue losses near $75 million, not including the hundreds of other community, county, and state governments. It is our desire to work closely with the federal government to ensure that public services remain strong, and fully supported.

We encourage our congressional delegation to join the bipartisan calls of support for state and local governments across our country and here in Iowa.

As negotiations move forward toward the next legislation, it is imperative that congress provide unrestricted aid for our cities to assist in supporting our front line workers who are rightfully being lauded for their work as well as cover some of the revenue loss that has occurred due to the pandemic. Bankruptcy is not an option.

This funding will support our public safety colleagues and provide the resources to jump start our recovery efforts by hiring workers to support infrastructure projects.

Our police officers, firefighters, and those providing medical care need our support. If cities are allowed to declare bankruptcy, cities would be forced to lay off employees, cut pay, and reduce pensions. City services like police and fire protection, garbage collection, road repairs and more could be reduced or eliminated. In some cities across the country, a large percentage of total fire stations and police stations have closed, which increases response times for medical emergencies, which would be a disaster during a pandemic. Preventive maintenance is halted, so roads and city equipment deteriorate, which ends up costing more in the long run.

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Iowa’s cities and public services provide the heartbeat of our communities. We encourage Congress to use their voice to stand up for us, and stand up for all Iowans.

Mayor Gary Lorenz- Ankeny

Mayor Brad Hart- Cedar Rapids

Mayor Mike Matson- Davenport

Mayor Frank Cownie- Des Moines

Mayor Roy Buol — Dubuque

Mayor Quentin Hart- Waterloo

Mayor Steve Gaer- West Des Moines

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