Mayors coalition: Pass American Rescue Plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Editor’s note: The following is written with the endorsement of Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, Concord Mayor Bill Dusch, Cornelius Mayor Woody Washam, Gastonia Mayor Walker Reid, Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant, Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins, Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh, who are members of the N.C. Metro Mayors Coalition and the N.C. League of Municipalities

Last month, the United States surpassed 500,000 deaths and North Carolina has lost 11,000 to COVID-19 as we battle the coronavirus. For the sake of our state and our country, pass the American Rescue Plan and end this crisis.

The coronavirus doesn’t know whether you’re a Republican or Democrat nor does it care if you’re from a small town, a big city or a rural county. We have been in a battle with this invisible enemy for a year, and as mayors in the Charlotte metro region, we are so proud of the way our communities have come together in our efforts to combat this virus. 

Our frontline health care, police, firefighters, EMS, sanitation, public works, transportation, aviation, transit, public utilities and other essential workers have been extraordinary and kept our communities safe and as healthy as possible. Our communities are very grateful for the funding appropriated thus far by the U.S. Congress and N.C. General Assembly to combat the virus and its effects on our communities.

The battle has been painful and has left deep and everlasting scars on our families and our communities in ways we haven’t even had a chance to take full measure of. We know what it takes to win the public health battle — vaccines, masks, social distancing — but we know it is not over yet.    

All our communities are dealing with the economic challenges as the virus leaves social and economic casualties in its wake. Our localities initially saw a steep drop off in revenues and, while there has been a recovery, we are still falling short in prepared food tax and hotel occupancy taxes — revenues we use to invest in critical infrastructure and services that create jobs for people at all levels of income.

We must not leave anyone behind in our effort to revitalize our economy. Recently, state budget writers learned there are 200,000 fewer jobs in our state than last year. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has pointed to an uneven economic recovery that has left segments of the economy still suffering, especially jobs in some lower wage sectors. These uneven effects hurt those who are most vulnerable. As mayors, we hear it every day — our citizens have struggled as we have fought the battle to defeat the virus. 

The American Rescue Plan will give our localities direct and flexible resources needed to fund essential services like police and firefighters but also the resources to replace revenues lost to the pandemic. It’ll provide economic relief to North Carolinians facing economic desperation. And let’s be honest. Revitalizing and rebuilding our communities and bringing back jobs — for everyone — is a key part of rebuilding lives as we fight to emerge from this battle.

This is the time for action of a scope that none of us has ever had to undergo in our lifetimes.

We are a group of mayors, standing together as local leaders fighting for our communities. We speak for people across North Carolina when we say to all members of Congress — we need bold action like the American Rescue Plan, and we need it now.