Late Monday, U.S. House of Representatives leadership released a revised version of the HEROES Act without modifications to the Coronavirus Relief Fund special districts have been advocating for. As the $2.2 trillion bill has only been introduced, we must act now to remind Oregon’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives of the importance of special districts’ inclusion in COVID-19 relief for local governments.
Call your U.S. House representative today. Share your district’s COVID-19 story and urge an amendment to the HEROES Act to include H.R. 7073, the Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act.
Please refer to the SDAO and the National Special Districts Coalition’s talking points and a discussion guide below. Click here for a full fact sheet.
SDAO is calling on all special districts to take action with a phone call to congressional offices on Tuesday, September 29 and Wednesday, September 30.
- Special districts are local governments providing critical infrastructure, first response, and community enrichment services to millions across Oregon and the country.
- We are local governments, not businesses or non-profits, and though we provide essential local services like water, sewer, fire protection, parks, and others, we are separate and distinct from cities and counties.
- Despite this, most special districts have not yet received access to Coronavirus Relief Act funding for local governments thorough their states.
- H.R. 7073, the Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act, would allow a portion of resources provided in future Coronavirus Relief Fund appropriations to be directed to special districts.
- H.R. 7073 does not ask for a new appropriation. Rather, it authorizes a mechanism for special district access appropriations Congress makes in the future under Section 601 of the Social Security Act (CARES Act / Coronavirus Relief Fund).
- The bill would give states flexibility on how to disburse funds to special districts within their respective states.
- This bill also allows special districts to use the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility program as a tool to access capital during an economic downturn / period of revenue loss.
- H.R. 7073 does not divert monies appropriated for cities and counties.
- Without access to federal resources, special districts will continue falling into economic distress, deferring maintenance, delaying capital projects, reducing staff, and cutting services to our communities.
Discussion Guide for Impacts on Your Special District
- Share with your representative where your special district is located (region), what services your district provides and how many people live in the community.
- Quantify previously unbudgeted expenses due to COVID-19 and share what those expenses have been (PPE, technology upgrades to for telecommuting, etc.).
- To what extent has your district experienced revenue loss? What do you project it to be?
- Have you had to cancel or significantly change routine operations or programs?
- If a utility provider: Have you experienced revenue loss due to diminished commercial and industrial service? Have you noticed unpaid residential customer bills? (state whether you have issued moratoriums on shutoffs).
- How many employees do you have, and how many now must either work from home and/or have been let go/furloughed?
- Have staff members had to take emergency sick or family leave time?
- Have you had to repurpose your district’s facilities to accommodate community needs?
Special Districts Association of Oregon