TOLEDO, Ohio — The Ohio Mayors Alliance has officially asked our elected officials in Washington to make sure direct funding for local communities is a part of the proposed COVID-19 relief package.
During a virtual press conference Monday, the Ohio Mayor's Alliance announced that the group had sent a letter to all of Ohio's members of Congress, asking them to try to ensure the COVID relief bill included direct, flexible financial assistance to frontline communities.
Dayton's mayor Nan Whaley says because direct fiscal assistance was not guaranteed in previous relief bills, communities across Ohio and the country were forced to furlough workers and cut services to be able to meet COVID mandates.
"We will continue to advocate for Ohio's mayors and Ohio's cities and Ohio's communities to make sure that we are not forgotten, yet again, in a package that comes out of Washington D.C.," said Whaley.
Findlay Mayor Christina Muryn says the implementation of health and safety policies have come down to decisions made at the county and municipal levels.
So, the Mayor's Alliance is not just asking for federal financial help to recover from the pandemic, but to ensure that local governments are ready and able to help bring us out of the pandemic as well.
"To be able to determine efficient and effective vaccine distribution, to be able to determine how we communicate logistics to our citizens and to continue to manage both the ongoing pandemic, but what lies ahead," said Muryn.
The Ohio Mayor's Alliance, a coalition of mayors of Ohio's largest cities, also released its updated policy priorities for 2021.
"There's lots of things that shouldn't be partisan in our group's mind, will help all of the citizens of Ohio and allow us to do our jobs better," said Lancaster Mayor David Scheffler.
The Ohio Mayor's Alliance focus for 2021 is on local recovery efforts, resiliency and equity.
The coalition board of directors say local municipal leadership has learned what must be fixed or changed in their communities after leading through a pandemic.
Along with direct federal COVID relief funding, the mayors would also like to see tangible progress made in repealing House Bill 6, avoiding tax policy changes or funding cuts to local governments and most importantly creating a proposed public safety grant program.
That safety program would ensure state grants can be used for every community in Ohio to equip their police officers with body cameras.
Muryn said that recovery from the economic impact of the pandemic will begin locally, as people return to their jobs and income tax revenues increase.
But until that happens, Ohio communities large and small will need more assistance from the state and federal government.
"It took us nearly a decade to come out of the 2008-2009 recession. That's unacceptable. And so, we as leaders across the state, across the country have said that is unacceptable and we're up to the challenge," said Muryn.
You can read the Ohio Mayor's Alliance full 2020 Annual Report, titled Leading Our Communities Through Crisis, here.