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Mayors balk at cuts to community grants
About 31 percent of CDBG grants are used for public facilities investments, according to the Housing and Urban Development Department, which oversees the program. Seven percent is used for economic development and about 26 percent for housing activities.
“Every year, the people who work in our communities send money to Washington,” said Elizabeth Kautz of Burnsville, Minn., president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Nothing comes back to us but for CDBG.”
Many Capitol Hill Republicans say cities would be better served if the federal government could balace its budget and lower taxes — leaving more money for communities to invest in social service programs.
CDBG proponents say that logic falsely assumes that cutting federal taxes would result in an equal amount of revenue flowing in from other sources.
“One of the strengths of a program like CDBG is that it’s there for cities every year,” said Michael Wallace, National League of Cities‘ program director for housing and community development. “Cities come to rely on a stable source of funding like CDBG.”
Mr. Gluba added that Davenport’s tax structure is fixed and that the city doesn’t have the ability to easily raise money to cover any CDBG cuts.
“Unlike Washington, we can’t print [money],” said the mayor, who was in Washington this week to lobby Congress against the cuts. “We don’t have the various forms of taxation” like the federal government, he said.
The National League of Cities, a powerful lobbying force for municipal governments, will press Congress to resist the cuts when the group meets in Washington for its annual conference beginning Saturday.
“This will be a topic all week,” Mr. Wallace said.
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About the Author
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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