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Santa Monica to Receive Nearly $27 Million in Federal Relief Funding

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

March 8, 2021 -- Santa Monica will receive $26.7 million in federal funding -- a "small fraction" of the revenue lost due to the coronavirus shutdown -- as part of a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill headed for final approval, City officials said Sunday.

The legislation approved by the U.S. Senate along party lines early Saturday morning includes $350 billion to help state and local governments recover from the coronavirus shutdown.

The funding earmarked for Santa Monica will "help offset the very substantial COVID-related revenue losses that the City budget has experienced over the first year of the pandemic," Interim City Manager Lane Dilg said in a statement.

The City -- which used $117 million in one-time funds to balance an already pared-down budget last June -- recently used another $14.6 million of the $20 million it had squirreled away for a winter COVID-19 surge.

Despite the deep cuts, Santa Monica's crippled economy has pushed the City's current budget into the red and is not expected to fully recover for at least another four years ("City to Dip Into Emergency Reserves as Economic Downturn to Last Until 2025," January 21, 2021).

"It is important to remember that this one-time federal aid to the City represents a small fraction of the revenue lost in COVID and only approximately 4 percent of the City’s current operating budget," Dilg said.

The City Council will program the funds "as wisely as possible in our biennial budget process as we prioritize City services," Dilg said.

The legislation "will provide much needed funding to accelerate vaccine rollout, reopen schools, and support small businesses in our community," she added.

The local and state jurisdictions receiving the most aid under the American Rescue Plan President Biden is expected to sign this week are those run by Democrat governments which imposed the strictest shutdowns.

California -- which is expected to have a $26 billion windfall entering its next budget cycle -- will receive approximately $26 billion from U.S. taxpayers.

Its local governments -- including Santa Monica -- will receive a total oof $14.9 billion.

Los Angeles County will receive $2 billion and the City of Los Angeles will receive $1.2 billion, followed by $601 million for the City and County of San Francisco.

New York City will receive $12.7 billion, while its local governments will receive $10.6 billion.

Meanwhile, Illinois -- which was on the brink of bankruptcy before the coronavirus shutdown due to massive pension debts -- will receive $7.5 billion.

The latest relief package includes $1,400 checks for Americans making under $80,000 per year and couples earning less than $160,000, and extends unemployment benefits.

"The passage of the American Rescue Plan is a huge step forward for working families in Santa Monica and across the country," Dilg said.

The City services funded by the legislation will help "see the community through this crucial recovery period to the very bright future that lies ahead," the City Manager said.

The relief package -- which was approved by the Senate on a 50 to 49 vote after an overnight session -- is headed back to the House to incorporate Senate amendments.

It is expected to receive the President's signature before unemployment benefits run out on March 14.

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