Atlanta officials fear more than $100 million budget shortfall due to COVID-19

The city of Atlanta passed $7 million in pandemic support funding despite concerns the city’s revenue has taken a hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Top Atlanta officials revealed the economic hit from COVID-19 could exceed $100 million in lost revenue.

The financial forecast appeared worse than anticipated, according to the city’s top officials. Atlanta could fall up to $109 million short in revenue for the last 45 days. The city’s finance director said drastic steps may be necessary.

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The city council has immediately started to consider delaying some projects and expenses including a large housing construction program touted by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. The $200 million project would construct affordable housing in the city.

Despite the bad news during Monday’s remote meeting of the Atlanta City Council, members unanimously approved legislation that would transfer $7 million from the uncommitted fund balance to assist those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation ratifies an executive order issued five days earlier by the mayor.

The city will split the money between children and senior food programs, homeless preparedness and response activities, small business continuity, emergency purchase of technology required to execute full telework deployment for all non-essential employees, and the city’s partners in the financial industry to provide emergency assistance to employees and hourly wage earners of businesses engaged with the city whose incomes are adversely impacted.

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The council also approved a resolution urging everyone in Atlanta to wear face masks while out.

“The use of face masks has been recommended to help prevent the continued spread of this virus,” said Councilmember Andrea Boone, who introduced the resolution. “This resolution is aimed at helping our community because when you put on a face mask, you're really helping to protect everyone else around you.”

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The city also reported the city council passed the following concerning the coronavirus:

• A resolution requesting that the city of Atlanta provide free COVID-19 testing to full-time and part-time employees of the city of Atlanta that may have been exposed to COVID-19 while performing their required job duties.

• A resolution requesting Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Governor Brian Kemp, Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts, and DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond to establish “point of care” on-site testing facilities in low income areas within the city of Atlanta in order to protect minorities that are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

• A resolution supporting Phase 4 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides more relief for the COVID-19 pandemic.

• A resolution requesting the chief financial officer provide a report on the accounting of all federal and state funds the city of Atlanta has received or will receive to assist with battling the harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• A resolution requesting the chief financial officer to provide the Atlanta City Council with an accounting of all emergency assistance to nonprofit and philanthropic organizations as part of the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

• A resolution authorizing the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority on behalf of the Stadium Neighborhoods Community Trust Fund Committee to award grants in a total amount not to exceed $250,000 to fund various community service projects to benefit the Atlanta neighborhoods of Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh, Summerhill and Grant Park.

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In other business, the council approved legislation declaring Atlanta as a Vision Zero city as well as approved amendments to reduce speed limits and other traffic safety issues including new bike routes and lanes. It also authorized a $250,000 grant through the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority on behalf of the Stadium Neighborhoods Community Trust Fund Committee to fund various community service projects in the Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh, Summerhill and Grant Park neighborhoods.

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