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Message from League Executive Director Carolyn Coleman on Coronavirus Response

April 15, 2020
Dear California City Leaders, 
California’s local leaders continue to work tirelessly during this pandemic, taking actions that are saving lives and serving as a model for the country. The League remains focused on supporting you and ensuring that you have the resources and the information to make informed decisions for your communities. 
Here’s a brief recap of recent and on-going significant COVID-19 developments:

League Advocates for Federal Fiscal Assistance Due to COVID-19 Budget Impacts. In late March, Congress passed and the President signed into law the $2 trillion CARES Act, which provides financial assistance to individuals and small businesses on the economic margins, as well as $150 billion in direct aid to state and local governments with populations greater than 500,000 to help offset new costs directly related to the pandemic.  According to guidance from the U.S. Treasury, this assistance cannot be used to replace revenue shortfalls, which states and local governments are experiencing.
While these resources are much needed and appreciated, only six California cities are eligible to receive this direct aid. However, all of our cities are experiencing revenue shortfalls and increases in costs due to COVID-19 and we cannot afford for any of our cities to be left behind.
That’s why the League is supporting H.R. 6467, the Coronavirus Community Relief Act, and urging California House members to cosponsor this bill. H.R. 6467 provides $250 billion in direct aid from the federal government to local governments with a population of less than 500,000 as they face mounting challenges related to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
If you haven’t already, please contact your U.S. House member and urge them to support this much needed bill. A sample template letter is available.

No Changes to Property Tax Deadline. To preserve local governments’ ability to deliver services during the COVID-19 crisis, the League joined with the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) and the Rural Counties Representatives of California (RCRC) in urging the Governor to support retaining the April 10 deadline for property tax payments. On April 4, the Governor announced his support for the decision made by county officials to waive penalties on a case-by-case basis for property owners unable to pay by that date, and the April 10 deadline passed without any changes.      

Governor Clarifies Executive Order on District Elections. Last Thursday, the Governor issued Executive Order N-48-20, which clarified a previous Executive Order suspending the public hearing process for cities converting from at-large to district-based elections in response to a written demand, and states that both the public hearings and “safe-harbor” timeframes are suspended “until further notice.” Despite the original Executive Order, cities continued to be at risk of costly litigation under the California Voting Rights Act if they did not complete the process of converting within the “safe-harbor” timeframes under Elections Code section 10010(e). At the urging of the League, the Governor’s Office clarified that the “safe-harbor” timeframes are suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information on COVID-19 updates, visit the League’s COVID-19 Resources for Cities webpage. If you have questions related to COVID-19, please send them to covid-19@cacities.org. Thank you for your leadership. Please stay safe and healthy. 
Carolyn M. Coleman
Executive Director
League of California Cities

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