Sacramento Mayor Steinberg drafts up plans for $89M in federal relief

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Sacramento is better off than many cities when it comes to getting federal COVID-19 relief money, which only goes to cities with 500,000 or more people.

Despite a loss of up to $90 million in tax revenue projected through next year, the city of Sacramento has enough reserve funds to weather the COVID-19 economic storm.

“We won’t have to lay off any essential workers or cut essential services to any degree,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

That allows the city to use its $89 million federal stimulus check to help businesses and laid-off workers recover. But Steinberg has laid out a spending blueprint that looks beyond emergency help.

In a letter to the city council, the mayor proposed spending $20 million each in four areas.

One area involves businesses, which would get loans and grants to take the sting out of the lockdown. 

Twenty-million dollars would go toward increasing affordable rental housing, as well as shelter for the homeless.

Another $20 million would go to workforce training and a like amount to support tourism and cultural arts.

In addition, $9 million would fill in gaps to recovery programs.

It’s a spending plan that goes beyond immediately distributing relief funds.

“We could spend the entire 89 million on emergency response and yes a lot of people would get help but it wouldn’t go very far,” Steinberg told FOX40.

Steinberg believes the virus crisis exposes the city’s reliance on restaurants, bars and brick-and-mortar retail, which may take time to recover, if at all.

The mayor is looking ahead at training a new workforce for bread and butter jobs like construction, as well as developing new technologies in a digital age, especially those in underserved communities looking ahead.

“The world will shift and that requires us to think about where the jobs will be and where the shift will be,” he said.

While people think about the arts as a lifestyle amenity, Steinberg believes it is also an economic engine that can rev up the new convention center and theater and make the city a center for festivals, which are not possible right now with a ban on large crowds.

“But that day will come and I want to make sure we’re prepared to grow this whole new industry,” Steinberg said.

Steinberg does not want to be heavy-handed about how the federal money is spent. Instead, he wants to lay down the framework to begin the discussion.

“In the end, it might look different,” Steinberg said. “That’s OK. This will be a city council decision influenced by the community.”

Mayor Steinberg said he wants to get the ball rolling because the federal Treasury Department requires that the relief money be spent or committed before the end of the calendar year.

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